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3  3433  06250202  0 

McHARLES  B  IlttiMr 

1  ^^B 


!     HIS  BOOK   | 

\    \ 




^J  1^ 




-•*-*.      ss 













I  have  here  only  made  a  collection  of  culled 
facts,  and  have  brought  nothing  of  my  own  but 
the  thread  that  ties  them  together. 

—  Montaigne. 






COPTRIOHT,     1907,    BT 

E.  \V.   Vandeoboof. 

• .  •    V-    ..  v»    v>      '^ 

I       «        ■        ■   .  «  •    • 

•  •  .'  • 
...      .     .    . 













(Written  in  1887) 

I  ONCE  asked  an  old  friend,  whose  income  was  ten  times 
greater  than  any  personal  use  to  which  he  could  devote  it, 
why  he  speculated  in  stocks?  His  reply  was  that  he  did  so 
in  order  to  keep  his  mind  active.  Upon  reflection,  I  saw 
there  was  sound  philosophy  as  well  as  Yankee  shrewdness  in  the 
old  gentleman's  answer.  He  did  not  wish  the  world  to  go  by  him, 
but  was  determined,  so  long  as  he  lived  in  it,  to  be  of  it,  to  keep 
abreast  of  the  times  and  in  the  swim,  and  he  knew  the  best  way 
to  accomplish  this  was  to  dabble  a  little  in  Wall  Street,  for  the 
stock  exchanges  of  the  world  are  mirrors  which  reflect  every 
light  and  shadow  upon  their  surfaces.  He  might  have  set  down 
and  hugged  and  reinvested  his  income,  might  have  grown  into  a 
moldy  nuisance,  as  most  men  do  who  have  money  only,  and  whose 
only  resource  is  to  talk  about  it ;  but  he  wisely  preferred  to  take 
a  hand  in  the  enterprises  going  forward  around  him,  and  wear 
out  rather  than  rust  out. 

Having  given  up  business  some  years  ago  on  account  of  ill 
health,  and  determining  upon  my  recovery  not  again  to  take 
an  active  hand  in  the  dizzy  games  that  are  played  on  the  stock 
exchange  and  the  board  of  trade,  yet  at  the  same  time  wishing, 
like  my  old  friend,  to  keep  my  mind  active,  I  determined  to  look 
into  the  early  history  of  that  section  of  the  State  where  I 
was  born  and  jot  down  such  things  as  might  be  of  interest 
to  myself  and  possibly  to  others  resident  in  the  Genesee 

Although  my  memory  goes  back  to  the  tales  of  my  grand- 
fathers, who  were  pioneers  of  the  eighteenth  century,  I  found 
myself  lamentably  ignorant  of  many  important  and  prominent 
facts  connected  with  our  early  history.  Phelps  and  Gorham  I 
had  indeed  heard  of,  but  did  not  know  that  their  purchase  was 
made  from  the  State  of  Massachusetts,  and  not  from  New  York. 
Robert  Morris  was  a  familiar  name  in  connection  with  Revolu- 
tionary history,  but  I  was  unaware  that  he  had  ever  owned  a 

rood  of  ground  in  this  section.*  The  London  Associates,  Sir 
William  Pulteney,  William  Hornby,  and  Patrick  Colquhoun,  I 
had  never  heard  mentioned  in  connection  with  pioneer  affairs. 
"  The  Holland  Purchase  "  had  a  familiar  sound  in  my  ears,  but 
of  the  details  of  that  important  transaction  I  knew  nothing. 
Now,  the  fact  that  I  was  ignorant  of  local  history  would 
be  of  no  consequence,  and  discreditable  to  me  only  provided 
means  of  ready  information  on  the  subject  were  at  hand,  and 
that  a  fair  proportion  of  those  around  me  possessed  such  informa- 
tion. But  they  do  not,  for  the  simple  reason  that  no  compre- 
hensive history  of  Western  New  York  is  now  in  existence.  Tur- 
ner's volumes  never  had  a  general  circulation  and  have  long  been 
out  of  print.  It  is  doubtful  whether  one  in  five  hundred  of  the 
present  residents  on  the  Massachusetts  Pre-emption  ever  saw  them. 
They  are  becoming  rare  books.  Occasional  copies  are  advertised 
for  sale  at  three  to  five  times  their  original  cost.  A  dealer  had 
my  order  more  than  three  months  before  he  was  able  to  procure 
for  me  a  copy  of  the  "  History  of  the  Holland  Purchase."  "  The 
Phelps  and  Gorham  Purchase  "  is  equally  scarce. 

Big  and  bad  as  those  volumes  are,  devoted  as  they  are  to 
almost  every  subject  except  the  one  announced  on  the  title-page, 
if  they  were  in  free  circulation  this  history  would  not  have  been 
undertaken.  For  no  one  knows  better  than  I  that  I  do  not  possess 
a  literary  faculty  or  a  good  "  style,"  and  am  not  well  equipped 
either  by  nature,  study,  or  practice  for  the  task  I  have  set 
myself.  But  something  needed  to  be  done,  and  done  promptly. 
Our  early  annals  were  fast  slipping  away  from  the  minds  and 
memories  of  men.  The  pioneer  is  no  longer  here  to  recount 
the  story  of  struggle  and  privation.  The  ring  of  his  axe  and 
the  crack  of  his  rifle  died  away  as  the  twilight  began  to  gather 
round  the  declining  years  of  the  nineteenth  century.  Not  one 
remains  whose  farm  was  "  articled  "  to  him  by  Phelps  and  Gor- 
ham, and  probably  none  who  remembers  when  William  and  James 
Wadsworth  settled  in  the  Genesee  Valley.  I  found  that  the 
young  men  and  women  growing  up  about  me,  the  generation  that 
has  come  upon  the  stage  since  the  outbreak  of  the  Civil  War, 
were,  like  myself,  sadly  deficient  in  their  knowledge  of  our  early 
history.  They  seemed  to  think  that  handsome,  commodious  farm 
houses,  substantial,  gaily-painted  out-buildings,  thriving  towns, 
and  busy,  populous  cities  had  always  existed  here.     To  correct 

*  Written  at  Clifton  Springs. 


such  impressions,  to  tell  the  younger  generation  of  YVestern  New 
Yorkers  that  there  may  be  now  living  a  few  men  and  women  who 
were  born  before  any  white  habitations  existed  west  of  Seneca 
Lake,  that  a  century  has  hardly  elapsed  since  this  highly  culti- 
vated and  populous  region  was  an  unbroken  wilderness  through 
which  the  Seneca  Indians  roamed  at  will,  and  to  give  them  some 
notion  of  the  resolute  purpose,  the  patient  toil,  and  the  cheer- 
fully-endured privations  which,  after  the  lapse  of  a  century, 
have  made  that  wilderness  to  blossom  like  the  rose,  is  the  object  of 
this  compilation.     And  now  a  word  or  two  regarding  it. 

In  the  preface  to  his  translation  of  the  Iliad,  Pope  tells  us 
that  "  Homer  is  universally  allowed  to  have  had  the  greatest 
Invention  of  any  writer  whatever.  The  praise  of  Judgment 
Virgil  has  justly  contested  with  him,  but  his  Invention  remains 
yet  unrivaled.  Nor  is  it  a  wonder  if  he  has  ever  been  acknowl- 
edged the  greatest  of  poets  who  most  excelled  in  that  which  is 
the  very  foundation  of  poetry.  It  is  the  Invention  that  in  dif- 
ferent degrees  distinguishes  all  great  geniuses  —  the  utmost 
stretch  of  human  study,  learning,  and  industry,  which  masters 
everything  besides,  can  never  attain  to  this.  It  furnishes  Art 
with  all  her  materials,  and  without  it  Judgment  itself  can  at  best 
but  steal  wisely,  for  Art  is  only  like  a  prudent  steward  that  lives 
on  managing  the  riches  of  nature." 

History  affords  little  room  for  the  exercise  of  Homer's  wonder- 
ful faculty.  It  deals  with  a  world  of  events  and  facts,  and 
ceases  to  be  valuable  when  it  ceases  to  be  veritable.  Its  dignity, 
its  philosophy,  and  its  lessons  are  worthless  if  not  drawn  from 
its  truth.  Invention  has  no  place  in  its  framework.  Unless  it 
be  contemporaneous,  it  must  to  a  great  extent  be  based  on  pre- 
existing records.  The  ratiocinations  of  the  author,  his  com- 
ments, inferences,  and  conclusions  may  or  may  not  be  of  value. 
A  good  narrator  may  be  narrow,  unfair,  and  partisan  as  a  com- 
mentator. It  is  generally  conceded  that  the  most  eloquent  his- 
torian of  our  time  was  a  prejudiced  man.* 

In  this  volume  I  have  invented  nothing.  Those  who  read  it 
must  decide  whether  I  have  had  the  Judgment  "  to  steal  wisely." 

The  Spectator  says :  "  A  great  book  is  a  great  evil.     Were  all 

books  reduced  to  their  quintessence  many  a  bulky  author  would 

make  his  appearance  in  a  penny  paper."     Bearing  this  in  mind, 

I  determined  from  the  outset  that  my  work  must  be  limited  to 

*  Macaulay. 


giving  an  outline  of  the  principal  events  in  our  pioneer  annals. 
To  have  gone  into  details,  to  have  attempted  even  a  meagre 
sketch  of  the  early  history  of  localities  and  of  the  lives  of  those 
pioneers  whose  prominence  might  entitle  them  to  mention,  would 
have  taken  half  a  score  of  volumes  rather  than  one.  It  is  better 
to  be  incomplete  than  tedious,  to  set  forth  a  few  prominent  facts 
which  may  fix  themselves  in  the  reader's  mind,  rather  than  pre- 
sent a  vast  mass  of  detail  which  he  rejects  at  sight.  The 
history  of  an  adjoining  county  was  carried  on  through  two 
volumes  of  more  than  four  hundred  pages  each,  and  left  in  an 
unfinished  state  on  account  of  the  ill  health  of  its  author.  By 
shunning  his  voluminous  error  I  hope  to  escape  its  conse- 

It  has  been  my  endeavor  herein  to  avoid  tediousness,  elegant 
writing,  and  impersonal  dignity.  My  work  is  too  frank  and 
amateurish  for  the  editorial  "  we,"  hence  it  is  composed  in  the 
first  person.  "  We "  is  falling  into  desuetude  even  in  news- 
paper work. 

My  compilation  is  put  forth  in  the  hope  that  it  may  be  of 
value  to  my  neighbors  of  the  present  and  future  generations, 
and  while  I  do  not  expect  from  it  either  fame,  profit,  or  applause, 
may  I  not  comfort  myself  with  the  reflection  that  though 

"  The  letters  Cadmus  gave  " 

have  not  been  employed  with  literary  skill,  they  have  not  been 
devoted  to  an  unworthy  purpose? 

E.  W.  V. 
Clifton  Springs,  New  York,  1889. 



D£*  fob*,***"0 


RED   .1  V.CKET 



As  monumental  bronze  unchanged  his  look; 
A  soul  that  pity  touched  but  never  shook; 
Trained  from  his  tree-rocked  cradle  to  his  bier, 
The  fierce  extremes  of  good  and  ill  to  brook 
Impassive  —  fearing  but  the  shame  of  fear  — 
A  stoic  of  the  woods  —  a  man  without  a  tear. 

—  Campbell. 

THE  predecessors  of  the  white  man  in  the  Genesee  Coun- 
try were  the  Seneca  Indians.  They  were  the  most  in- 
telligent, numerous,  and  powerful  of  the  six  tribes  which 
at  the  date  of  the  Massachusetts  cession  (1786)  formed 
the  League  of  the  Iroquois.  These  tribes  or  nations  were  the 
Mohawks,  Oneidas,  Onondagas,  Cayugas,  Senecas,  and  Tusca- 
roras,  and  occupied  the  central  portion  of  the  State  of  New  York 
from  the  Hudson  to  Lake  Erie,  in  the  order  indicated  by  their 
names.  Originally  the  League  consisted  of  but  five  nations ; 
the  Tuscaroras,  a  kindred  and  fugitive  tribe  from  North  Caro- 
lina, having  been  admitted  as  a  sixth  nation  about  1715.  They 
were  to  some  extent  wards  of  the  original  five,  and  were  without 
sachems,  or  voice  in  league  government.  These  tribes  or  nations 
were  found  in  possession  of  the  country  indicated  at  the  period  of 
the  earliest  Dutch  settlement  (1609),  beyond  which  we  have  only 
their  traditions  to  guide  us  as  to  the  locality  of  their  previous 
occupation,  or  their  origin. 

The  project  of  a  league  originated  with  the  Onondagas,  and 
tradition  assigns  the  northern  shore  of  Onondaga  Lake  as  the 
place  where  the  Iroquois  sachems  assembled  to  agree  upon  the 
terms  of  the  compact  by  which  they  were  to  act  as  one  people 
on  all  questions  concerning  their  common  welfare.  The  form 
of  government  adopted  was  based  upon  the  family  relation.  The 
Indian  name  of  the  league,  Ho-de-no-sau-nee,  signifies  a  long 
house,  and  conveys  the  idea  that  its  occupants  live  in  one  cabin 
and  form  one  great  family.     The  Senecas  being  more  numerous 


than  any  other  two  tribes  combined  were  the  hereditary  door- 
keepers of  the  Long  House,  and  were  known  as  the  first  fire,  the 
Mohawks,  who  kept  the  eastern  door,  being  known  as  the  fifth. 
Being  the  central  fire,  and  for  reasons  of  locality  and  conveni- 
ence, meetings  of  the  league  were  held  among  the  Onondagas, 
but  the  sachems  and  warriors  of  all  the  tribes  were  of  equal  rank, 
dignity,  and  voice  in  conducting  the  affairs  of  the  confederacy. 
Their  form  of  government  was  oligarchical  —  the  rule  of  the 
few  —  and  up  to  the  time  of  the  Revolutionary  War  unanimous 
consent  of  all  the  tribes  was  necessary  before  entering  upon  any 
enterprises  not  merely  local  in  their  nature.  War,  peace,  league 
legislation,  and  the  government  of  conquered  and  subject  tribes 
required  unanimity.  In  1776,  the  Oneidas  refused  to  join  the 
other  tribes  in  making  war  upon  the  Colonies,  and  remained  true 
to  a  treaty  in  which  all  had  joined,  promising  a  strict  neutrality 
between  King  George  and  his  rebellious  subjects. 

Their  laws  were  few  and  simple,  and  are  perhaps  a  good  illus- 
tration of  the  saying  that  the  best  government  is  that  which 
governs  least.  Living  in  the  hunter  state  they  had  no  individual 
possessions  —  one  Indian  was  as  rich  as  another  —  and  for  this 
reason  nine-tenths  of  the  statutes  that  encumber  the  law  books 
of  civilized  and  enlightened  nations  were  useless  to  these  simple- 
minded,  straightforward  people. 

The  league  was  interwoven  into  one  political  family  by  a  law 
which  forbade  the  young  warriors  and  maidens  of  the  same  tribe 
to  intermarry.  A  Mohawk  warrior  might  marry  an  Oneida 
maiden,  and  a  Cayuga  maiden  might  become  the  wife  of  a  Seneca 
or  Mohawk  warrior,  but  young  people  of  the  same  tribe  were 
forbidden  to  enter  the  marriage  state.  By  this  simple  means 
tin-  tribe's  became  consolidated  into  one  great  family,  and 
the  warriors  and  women  of  one  tribe  regarded  all  other  tribes 
of  the  league  as  brothers  and  sisters,  as  much  so  as  though  they 
had  been  children  of  the  same  parents.  The  children  followed 
the  condition  of  the  mother.  If  she  was  a  Seneca  or  Onondaga 
woman  they  were  Senecas  or  Onondagas.  These  unschooled  bar- 
barians  wire  m  ugh  to  know  that   parentage  on  one  side 

i>  indisputable.  All  titles  and  rights  of  property  were  con- 
fined to  the  female  line;  as  the  mothers  of  the  warriors,  the 
squaws  w  re  held  to  be  the  rightful  custodians  and  owners  of 
tlie  homes  of  the  tribes,  it  was  a  knowledge  of  this  fact  that 
enabled  Mr.  Thomas  Morris,  at  the  Treaty  of  Big  Tree  (Gen- 


eseo)  in  1797,  to  reopen  the  council  fires,  and  obtain  from  the 
women  a  cession  which  the  eloquence  of  Red  Jacket  had  persuaded 
the  assembled  sachems,  chiefs,  and  warriors  of  the  Seneca  Nation 
to  refuse  to  grant. 

The  Iroquois  can  hardly  be  said  to  have  had  a  criminal  code. 
Witchcraft,  in  which  they  believed,  was  punishable  with  death. 
Any  person  could  take  the  life  of  another  when  discovered  in 
the  act  of  witchcraft.  Adultery  was  punished  by  whipping, 
but  women  only  were  presumed  to  be  offenders.  To  the  honor 
of  the  Indian,  it  must  be  said,  that  he  was  loyal  and  true  in  his 
domestic  relations.  The  murderer  was  given  over  to  the  private 
vengeance  of  the  friends  and  relatives  of  the  victim.  They 
could  take  his  life  whenever  they  found  him,  even  after  a  lapse 
of  years.  The  crime,  however,  might  be  condoned,  and  strenuous 
efforts  were  often  made  to  that  end.  A  belt  of  white  wampum 
sent  by  the  offender  to  the  family  of  the  slain  was  the  usual  mode 
of  effecting  a  condonation.  If  not  sent  in  due  time,  or  if  the 
family  of  the  deceased  refused  to  receive  it,  and  remained  im- 
placable, their  vengeance  was  permitted  to  take  its  course.  To 
the  credit  of  the  North  American  natives,  it  may  be  said  that  pre- 
vious to  the  introduction  of  ardent  spirits  among  them  crimes  of 
any  sort  were  of  very  rare  occurrence. 

The  women  of  the  Iroquois  arranged  all  marriages,  the  father 
never  troubling  himself  about  such  matters.  To  have  done  so 
would  have  been  to  interfere  with  female  rights,  and  these  he 
respected  as  inflexibly  as  he  guarded  his  own.  Marriages  of 
affection  were  unknown.  The  warrior  and  maiden,  who,  per- 
haps met  for  the  first  time  at  their  betrothal,  accepted  one  another 
as  gifts  from  their  respective  mothers.  There  was  little  soci- 
ability between  the  sexes.  The  men  went  forth  together  on  the 
war  path,  the  chase,  or  for  amusement,  leaving  the  women  to 
the  companionship  of  their  own  sex.  Sociability  between  male 
and  female  as  it  is  understood  in  polite  society  had  no  existence 
amongst  the  Iroquois.  The  Indian  was  an  aboriginal  aristocrat. 
He  was  a  sportsman,  a  warrior,  and  an  hereditary  legislator. 
Beyond  the  fashioning  of  his  implements  for  hunting,  fishing,  and 
warfare,  no  labor  soiled  his  hands.  When  not  upon  the  war-path 
or  beside  the  council  fire,  "  he  loved  to  lie  a-basking  in  the  sun," 
and  did  it.  The  squaws  did  all  the  drudgery  out  of  doors  and 

Strictly  speaking,  the  Iroquois  had  no  religious  faith.      They 


believed  in  the  Great  and  Evil  Spirits,  who,  according  to  their 
legend,  were  of  finite  origin,  being  brothers  born  at  the  same 
birth,  and  destined  to  an  endless  existence.  They  ascribed  to 
each  creative  power,  believing  that  the  Great  Spirit  created 
them,  and  everything  that  was  good,  useful,  and  beautiful; 
while  the  Evil  Spirit  originated  monsters,  reptiles,  and  noxious 
plants.  Unlike  some  other  tribes,  the  Iroquois  did  not  believe 
heaven  to  be  a  "  happy  hunting  ground."  In  their  future  abode 
they  deemed  subsistence  to  be  no  longer  a  necessity,  and  held 
that  the  spontaneous  luxuries  existing  around  them  there  were 
for  the  gratification  of  taste  and  not  for  the  support  of  life. 
One  of  the  most  beautiful  of  all  their  simple  beliefs  was  that  there 
is  a  road  from  heaven  to  every  man's  door.  But  if  the  plain,  hon- 
est truth  must  be  told,  it  compels  the  statement  that  nearly  all 
attempts  to  civilize  and  Christianize  the  red  men  have  been  fail- 
ures. "  He  asks  no  angels'  wing,  no  seraphs'  fire."  He  is 
almost  absolutely  without  hope,  fear,  or  affection.  Hatred  and 
revenge  are  his  only  prominent  passions.  The  warrior  who 
would  caress  his  wife  or  children  would  be  thought  unfit  for  the 
sterner  duties  of  life.  The  Indian  is,  and  will  forever  be,  "  The 
Stoic  of  the  woods,  the  man  without  a  tear." 

Contact  between  white  and  red  men  has  always  been  fatal  to 
the  latter.  The  Iroquois  reached  the  summit  of  their  power 
nearly  two  centuries  ago.  Previous  to  that  period,  their  con- 
federacy was  feared  from  the  Hudson  to  the  Mississippi.  They 
gave  laws  to  the  conquered  nations  from  the  ice-bound  region  of 
Canada  to  the  Carolinas.  Their  war  whoop  echoed  along  the 
great  lakes  of  the  North,  and  struck  terror  to  the  hearts  of  their 
dusky  enemies  on  the  banks  of  the  Ohio,  the  Tennessee,  and  the 
Roanoke.  They  dominated  numerous  subjugated  tribes,  some 
of  whom  they  denationalized  and  deprived  of  tribal  relations, 
and  others  they  practically  extirpated.  They  were  alternately 
courted  by  the  French,  the  Dutch,  and  the  English,  who  recog- 
nized and  feared  their  prowess  and  power.  The  pale  faces, 
however,  introduced  among  them  two  potent  agents  of  destruc- 
tion, ardent  spirits  and  firearms,  and  at  the  period  of  the  Gen- 
esee Settlement  their  decadence  had  already  made  marked  prog- 
n  ^s.  But  they  were  still  numerous  and  powerful  enough  to  be 
dangerous  neighbors.  Told,  as  they  constantly  were  by  British 
emissaries  from  Canada,  that  the  King  of  England  and  not 
General  Washington  was  their  Great  Father,  that  the  war  would 


soon  be  resumed  and  rebellious  subjects  brought  under  subjection 
and  punishment,  that  their  only  safety  lay  in  loyalty  and  ad- 
hesion to  the  good  King,  and  that  duty  and  safety  alike  should 
prompt  them  to  aid  him  in  regaining  dominion  over  his  colonies, 
it  is  little  wonder  that  the  pioneer  regarded  his  tawny  neighbors 
with  suspicion  and  dread,  and  felt  that  he  took  his  life  in  his 
hand  in  making  his  home  in  a  region  over  which  they  had  so  long 
held  sway,  and  to  which  they  sincerely  believed  they  had  a  pre- 
scriptive and  inalienable  right.  Fortunately  for  the  colonists, 
the  distinguished,  eloquent,  and  sagacious  sachem  of  the  Senecas 
—  Red  Jacket  —  was  a  man  of  peace,  and  was  not  easily  misled 
or  cajoled  by  the  mendacious  tales  of  Canadian  emissaries  and 
their  Indian  confederates,  amongst  the  latter  of  whom  Joseph 
Brandt  was  active  and  conspicuous.  To  the  firm  but  concilia- 
tory hand  of  Governor  George  Clinton  ;  to  the  wise,  prudent,  and 
patient  counsels  of  the  Indian  Commissioners  —  Colonel  Timothy 
Pickering  and  General  Israel  Chapin;  and  to  the  thorough 
knowledge  of  the  native  character  possessed  by  Captain  Parrish 
and  Horatio  Jones,  who  acted  as  Indian  agents  and  interpreters, 
as  well  as  to  the  pacific  disposition  of  the  leading  sachems  of 
the  Seneca  Nation,  must  be  ascribed  the  fact  that  the  pioneers 
and  their  red  brethren  lived  upon  terms  of  amity,  and  that  the 
scenes  of  Cherry  Valley  and  Wyoming  were  not  re-enacted  in  the 
Genesee  Country  a  century  ago. 


ONE  hundred  years  ago  that  portion  of  the  State  of 
New  York,  lying  west  of  Seneca  Lake,  known  to  east- 
ern people  as  the  "  Genesee  Country,"  was  an  unbroken 
wilderness.*  Smoke  from  the  cabin  of  no  white  settler 
arose  in  that  vast  region,  now  the  garden  of  the  State.  Red 
Jacket,  Cornplanter,  and  Farmer's  Brother  reigned  supreme.  Let 
it  not  be  understood  that  no  white  man  had  set  foot  there.  More 
than  two  centuries  ago  —  away  back  in  the  days  of  Champlain 
and  Jacques  Cartier  —  two  French  Jesuit  fathers,  Brebauf  and 
Chauminot,  crossed  Lake  Ontario  and  came  upon  the  Niagara 
River  near  Lewiston.  With  the  proselyting  zeal  so  character- 
istic of  their  faith,  they  came  as  the  bearers  of  good  tidings  to 
the  Neuter  Nation  and  surrounding  tribes.  The  fathers  found 
the  stoics  of  the  woods  indifferent  to  their  teachings,  but  though 
unable  to  convert  the  heathen  of  the  western  world  they  were 
not  converted  by  them,  as  happened  in  later  times  to  Lord  Bishop 
Colenso  in  the  eastern  hemsiphere.  Occasional  Indian  traders 
had  camped  for  a  time  upon  the  Niagara  and  Genesee  rivers,  but 
they  were  itinerants,  who  came  and  went,  and  had  no  permanent 
abiding  place. 

The  expedition  of  De  Nonville  in  1687,  consisting  of  French 
regular  troops  and  allies  from  a  number  of  tribes  of  western 
Indians,  penetrated  as  far  as  the  present  village  of  Victor,  On- 
tario County,  where  an  indecisive  battle  was  fought  with  the 
Senecas.  The  French  retired  to  Niagara,  establishing  a  fort 
there.  Their  Indian  allies  were  greatly  incensed  at  this  move 
and  at  the  barren  results  of  an  expedition  from  which  so  much  had 
been  expected.  The}'  had  "  come  with  banner,  brand,  and  bow," 
hoping  to  assist  in  the  extermination  of  their  implacable  enemies, 
the  Iroquois,  and  spoke  in  contemptuous  terms  of  the  retrograde 
move  of  the  French  commander. 

The  little  army  of  Sullivan  had  destroyed  the  cornfields  and 
burnt  the  villages  of  the  hostile  natives  in  this  region  during 
*  Written  in  1887. 


the  war  of  the  Revolution,  but  having  accomplished  this,  it  re- 
turned to  the  white  settlements  from  whence  it  came. 

The  title  to  the  lands  of  the  Genesee  Country  had  long  been 
in  dispute.  Possessed  of  little  knowledge  of  the  geography  of 
the  newly  discovered  world,  English,  French,  and  Dutch  kings 
had  given  conflicting  grants  to  various  parties,  had  granted  the 
same  lands  to  different  colonists,  had  granted  lands  they  never 
possessed,  and  the  extent  of  which  they  little  dreamed.  James 
I.,  in  1620,  gave  to  Massachusetts  all  the  lands  within  certain 
north  and  south  lines  extending  from  the  Atlantic  to  the  Pacific 
oceans.  He  probably  had  as  little  notion  of  the  number  of  miles 
between  the  two  coasts  as  he  had  of  the  distance  to  the  dog-star, 
perhaps  not  so  much.  New  York  claimed  under  both  Dutch  and 
English  grants.  The  expulsion  of  the  French  from  Canada 
had  obliterated  any  title  from  that  source,  and  as  Massachusetts 
had  the  prior  lien  she  got  the  Genesee  Country.  By  a  treaty 
ratified  in  1786,  New  York  State  ceded  to  her  the  pre-emption 
right  or  fee  to  all  the  lands  west  of  a  certain  line  running  north 
and  south  between  the  northern  boundary  of  the  State  of  Penn- 
sylvania and  Lake  Ontario.  It  was  agreed  that  the  starting 
point  of  this  line  should  be  on  the  Pennsylvania  boundary, 
eighty-two  miles  west  of  the  northeasterly  corner  of  that  State. 
Running  thence  due  north  to  Lake  Ontario,  its  course  was  very 
nearly  through  the  middle  of  Seneca  Lake. 

Soon  after  Massachusetts  became  possessed  by  deed  of  cession 
from  New  York  of  the  pre-emption  right  to  these  lands,  certain 
adventurous  spirits,  who  had  made  a  little  money  by  assisting 
the  Colonies  during  the  Revolutionary  struggle  as  commissaries 
and  quartermasters,  began  negotiations  for  their  purchase  of 
this  region.  In  saying  this  there  is  no  thought  of  casting  the 
slightest  shadow  upon  the  fair  fame  of  the  men  who  nobly  risked 
their  means  in  order  that  the  continental  army  might  be  kept  in 
the  field.  They  staked  not  their  money  only,  but  their  lives ;  and 
at  best  their  profits  were  in  continental  currency,  or  the  scrip  of 
the  different  Colonies  whose  troops  they  helped  to  feed  and  clothe. 
That  we  succeeded  in  the  struggle  inaugurated  at  Lexington 
and  Concord  was  largely  due  to  the  patriotic  merchant  and 
banker  of  Philadelphia,  Robert  Morris,  and  to  his  coadjutors, 
amongst  whom  may  be  mentioned  Oliver  Phelps,  Jeremiah  Wads- 
worth,  and  John  B.  Church.  But  for  the  cheering  words  and 
more  cheering  assistance  of  Mr.  Morris  the  army  of  Washington 


could  not  have  been  moved  south  to  undertake  the  seige  of  York- 
town.  His  money  and  credit  furnished  shoes,  clothing,  and 
subsistence  —  the  indomitable  will  was  never  lacking  —  and  the 
patriot  army  moved  on  to  the  final  victory  of  the  war. 

Amongst  those  who  early  foresaw  the  inducements  which  the 
Genesee  Country  held  out  to  enterprise  was  Oliver  Phelps.  Mr. 
Phelps  was  a  native  of  Windsor,  Connecticut,  but  had  removed 
to  Massachusetts  about  the  time  that  resistance  to  king  and 
parliament  began  in  that  colony.  With  nothing  to  recommend 
him  but  ardent  patriotism  and  uncommon  energy  of  character, 
he  was  —  though  but  a  youth  —  enrolled  as  a  member  of  the 
famous  Committee  of  Safety,  and  was  among  the  men  of  New 
England  who  assembled  at  Lexington.  When  the  troops  of  his 
native  State  were  organized  and  sent  into  the  field,  he  accepted 
an  appointment  in  the  commissary  department,  the  duties  of 
which  he  continued  to  discharge  until  the  close  of  the  war. 
He  then  became  a  resident  of  Suffield,  Mass.,  and  held  in  suc- 
cession the  offices  of  member  of  assembly,  senator,  and  member  of 
the  governor's  council.  Business  relations  brought  Mr.  Phelps 
and  Mr.  Morris  often  together,  and  the  latter  confirmed  the 
former  in  the  favorable  opinion  he  had  formed  of  the  fertility 
and  value  of  the  lands  in  Western  New  York.  Major  Adam 
Hoops,  of  Philadelphia,  who  had  been  the  aid  of  Gen.  Sullivan  in 
his  expedition  to  that  region,  was  an  acquaintance  of  Mr.  Morris 
and  had  given  that  gentleman  a  glowing  account  of  its  beauty  and 
adaptability  to  every  purpose  of  agricultural  and  manufacturing 
enterprise.  It  needed  but  these  confirmatory  opinions  to  induce 
Mr.  Phelps  to  become  interested  in  the  purchase  from  Massachu- 
setts of  its  pre-emption  title  or  fee  of  these  lands.  Applying  to 
the  Legislature  for  that  purpose,  on  behalf  of  himself  and  several 
of  his  friends  in  Berkshire,  he  found  that  they  had  been  antici- 
pated by  Nathaniel  Gorham,  a  merchant  of  Boston,  residing  in 
(harlestown.  To  prevent  a  conflict  of  interests,  Mr.  Phelps 
had  a  conference  with  Mr.  Gorham,  at  which  they  agreed  that 
the  latter  should  join  the  former  and  his  associates,  and  that  the 
proposal  of  purchase  by  Mr.  Gorham  should  be  considered  as 
made  for  their  common  interest.  Nothing,  however,  was 
accomplished  at  the  session  of  1787. 

Before  the  Legislature  convened  in  1788  a  new  svndicate  had 
been  formed,  which  included  all  who  desired  to  become  interested, 
of  which  Messrs.  Phelps  and  Gorham  were  constituted  the  repre- 


sentatives.  They  made  proposals  for  all  the  lands  embraced 
in  the  cession  to  Massachusetts,  which  were  accepted;  the  stipu- 
lated consideration  being  £300,000  Massachusetts  currency,  or 
£290,000  of  said  currency  and  £2,000  in  specie.  It  will  be  seen 
that  the  paper  was  worth  in  coin  about  twenty  per  cent,  of  its 
face  value.  The  public  obligations  of  the  State,  then  much  de- 
pressed, were  also  made  receivable  at  par  in  payment.  As  there 
were  more  than  6,000,000  acres  conveyed,  the  purchase  price 
was  about  five  cents  per  acre.  Imagine  the  corner  lots  of  Roch- 
ester and  Buffalo  being  sold  at  such  a  figure,  and  that  within 
the  memory  of  a  few  people  still  living ! 

Mr.  Phelps  knew  very  well  that  it  would  be  impossible  to  induce 
emigration  to  the  new  country  if  the  Indians  were  hostile,  so  his 
next  step  was  to  placate  them,  and  by  purchase  and  treaty  to 
extinguish  their  title.  He  accordingly  met  them  in  July,  1788, 
at  a  council  fire  which  they  had  lighted  at  Buffalo  Creek.  A 
full  delegation  of  Seneca  chiefs  was  present,  but  they  had  come 
determined  on  making  the  Genesee  River  the  western  boundary 
of  their  cession,  and  stoutly  resisted  any  attempt  to  secure  the 
whole  of  their  hunting  grounds.  They,  however,  generously 
granted  to  Mr.  Phelps  a  mill  lot  west  of  the  river,  twelve  miles 
by  twenty-four  in  extent.  One  hundred  acres  of  this  tract 
were  given  to  Ebenezer  Allen  upon  condition  that  he  would  erect 
a  grist  and  sawmill  thereon.  It  is  said  that  the  red  man,  when 
he  saw  the  mills,  was  rather  astonished  that  they  should  require 
so  large  a  lot.  The  best  business  portion  of  the  city  of  Roch- 
ester stands  on  the  hundred  acres  given  to  Allen.  The  whole 
Indian  cession  constituted  what  is  known  as  the  Phelps  and  Gor- 
ham  purchase,  and  was  bounded  as  follows :  "  Beginning  on 
the  northern  line  of  Pennsylvania  due  south  of  the  point  of  land 
made  by  the  confluence  of  the  Genesee  River  and  Canaseraga 
Creek ;  thence  north  on  said  line  to  the  said  point  or  confluence ; 
thence  northwardly  along  the  waters  of  the  Genesee  River  to 
a  point  two  miles  north  of  Canawagus  Village;  thence  running 
due  west  twelve  miles ;  thence  running  northwardly  so  as  to  be 
twelve  miles  distant  from  the  western  boundary  of  said  river  to 
the  shores  of  Lake  Ontario."  It  will  be  seen  that  these  bounds 
include  the  celebrated  "  mill  lot."  The  eastern  boundary  of  the 
purchase  was  the  pre-emption  line  before  described.*  The  con- 

*  The  territory  in  this  tract  now  comprises  the  counties  of  Ontario,  Steuben, 
Yates,  and  Livingston ;  a  part  of  Wayne,  most  of  Monroe,  a  small  part  of 
Genesee,  and  about  one  half  of  Allegany. 


sideration  paid  to  the  Indians  was  $5,000  in  silver  and  an  annu- 
ity of  $500  forever.  A  dispute  as  to  the  cash  payment  subse- 
quently arose;  Red  Jacket  and  Farmer's  Brother  claiming  that  it 
was  to  be  ten  instead  of  five  thousand  dollars.  Butler,  Brant,  and 
Lee,  as  referees,  and  the  Rev.  Mr.  Kirkland  and  others  who  were 
present  at  the  treaty,  sustained  Mr.  Phelps,  and  made  depositions 
that  the  Indians  were  mistaken  as  to  the  amount  of  the  purchase 
money.  A  new  pecuniary  difficulty  was  soon  after  encountered 
by  the  purchasers.  They  had  stipulated  to  make  payment  in 
the  public  paper  of  Massachusetts,  issued  during  the  Revolution, 
which  they  expected  to  obtain  at  about  fifty  per  cent,  of  its  face 
value.  The  meeting  of  the  Constitutional  Convention  in  Phila- 
delphia in  1787,  and  the  prospect  of  success  in  forming  a  federal 
union  which  would  take  over  the  debts  of  the  States,  had  caused 
an  advance  in  this  paper  to  nearly  par.  Being  unable  to  extin- 
guish the  Indian  title  over  the  whole  of  their  purchase,  they 
petitioned  the  Legislature  to  be  released  from  that  portion  of 
it  which  the  Indians  refused  to  cede.  Their  petition  was 
granted  ;  the  more  readily,  perhaps,  as  a  purchaser  for  the  re- 
maining lands  came  forward  in  the  person  of  Mr.  Robert  Morris. 

Being  now  ready  to  give  title,  Messrs.  Phelps  and  Gorham 
and  their  associates  bent  their  energies  toward  promoting  set- 
tlement. Pamphlets  and  handbills  descriptive  of  their  lands 
were  scattered  throughout  the  older  settled  States,  and  offers  to 
exchange  them  for  improved  property  at  the  East  were  attract- 
ively presented.  A  house  and  lot  in  an  eastern  village  would  be 
taken  on  even  terms  for  hundreds  of  acres  in  the  new  region,  en- 
abling men  of  narrow  means  and  growing  families,  but  possessed 
of  energy  and  enterprise,  to  provide  homes  in  the  future  for 
themselves  and  their  descendants.  Who  was  the  first  white  set- 
tler, who  sowed  the  first  wheat,  who  erected  the  first  frame  house, 
or  the  first  grist  mill,  are  moot  questions.  There  is  a  conflict 
of  statement  on  these  points,  a  correct  settlement  of  which  would 
be  of  little  value  could  it  be  reached. 

The  early  settlers  came  largely  from  New  England.  Better 
material  could  nowhere  have  been  found.  General  Micah  Brooks 
thus  speaks  of  them:  "I  saw  the  scattered  pioneers  in  their 
lonely  cabins,  cheered  by  the  hope  and  promise  of  a  generous 
reward  for  the  privations  they  then  suffered.  I  found  in  most 
localities  that  three-fourths  of  the  heads  of  families  had  been  sol- 
diers of  the  Revolution.     These  pioneers  inherited  the  principles 


and  firmness  of  their  fathers.  They  subdued  the  forest,  built 
houses  and  temples  for  worship,  and  were  well  skilled  in  all  the 
practical  duties  of  life.  In  seven  or  eight  years  from  the  first 
entrance  of  a  settler,  a  number  of  towns  in  Ontario  County  were 
furnished  with  well-chosen  public  libraries." 

It  required  much  energy  and  force  of  character  to  undertake 
the  journey  to  the  Genesee  Country  a  hundred  years  ago.  West 
of  Fort  Stanwix  there  was  only  an  Indian  trail.  Blazed  trees,  the 
stars  of  heaven,  and  the  courses  of  the  rivers  and  creeks  guided 
the  settlers  to  their  new  homes.  On  sleds  in  winter,  and  in  bat- 
eaux and  canoes  in  summer ;  on  foot  and  on  horseback,  at  all  sea- 
sons, the  toilsome  journey  was  made.  Shelter  at  night  was 
found  under  tents,  if  the  emigrants  were  fortunate  enough  to  be 
provided  with  them ;  if  not,  their  boats  and  carts  and  the  trees 
of  the  forest  were  their  only  protection.  There  was  not  a  human 
habitation,  except  an  occasional  wigwam,  between  Fort  Stanwix 
and  Kanandasaga,  now  the  handsome  and  flourishing  town  of 
Geneva.  It  may  here  be  stated  that  the  Genesee  Country  was 
settled  before  the  central  part  of  the  State,  and  that  Ontario  was 
the  first  county  west  of  Montgomery  a  hundred  years  ago. 
It  was  also,  until  1796,  the  only  county  in  the  State  west  of 
Seneca  Lake.*  Conflict  of  title  prevented  settlement  on  the 
"  Military  Tract  "  until  about  the  beginning  of  the  century.  This 
tract  included  the  present  counties  of  Onondaga,  Cayuga, 
Seneca,  Cortland,  and  Tompkins. 

A  mere  sketch  of  the  journey  from  the  East  of  two  pioneers 
will  suffice  to  show  the  difficulties  of  the  way,  and  may  be  taken  as 
the  common  experience  of  all  emigrants  previous  to  the  year  1800. 
William  and  James  Wadsworth  were  natives  of  Durham,  Connec- 
ticut; the  sons  of  John  N.  Wadsworth,  whose  possessions  made 
him  what  was  called  in  those  days  "  well  to  do."  James  was 
graduated  from  Yale  College  in  1787,  and  passed  the  two  suc- 
ceeding winters  in  Montreal,  teaching  school.  While  yet  undeter- 
mined as  to  his  career,  he  paid  a  visit  to  his  kinsman,  Colonel  Jere- 
miah Wadsworth,  of  Hartford,  for  the  purpose  of  seeking  advice 
of  the  older  man  as  to  his  pursuits  in  life.  Colonel  Wadsworth, 
as  has  been  stated,  was  active  in  aiding  with  his  means  to  keep  the 
army  of  Washington  in  the  field,  and,  in  connection  with  John  B. 

*  Counties  were  formed  from  Ontario  as  follows  :  Steuben,  1796 ;  Genesee, 
1802;  Allegany,  1806;  Niagara,  1808;  Chautauqua,  1808;  Cattaraugus,  1808; 
Monroe,  1821;  Erie,  1821;  Livingston,  1821;  Wayne,  1823;  Yates,  1823; 
Orleans,  1824;  Wyoming,  1841;  Schuyler,  1854. 


Church,  had  charge  of  the  subsistence  of  the  French  fleet  under 
Rochambeau.  Pie  had  early  made  the  acquaintance  of  Washing- 
ton, who  paid  frequent  visits  to  his  hospitable  mansion  to  consult 
with  its  owner  and  other  prominent  men  of  the  Revolution  as  to 
the  means  of  carrying  on  the  war.  Mrs.  Sigourney  thus  de- 
scribes these  meetings : 

"  Round  thy  plenteous  board  have  met, 

Rochambeau  and  La  Fayette, 

With  Columbia's  mightier  son, 

Great  and  glorious  Washington ; 

Here,  with  kindred  minds,  they  plann'd 

Rescue  for  an  infant  land." 
Having  been  intimately  associated  with  Robert  Morris  and 
Oliver  Phelps  in  business  and  financial  measures  connected  with 
the  prosecution  of  the  war,  and  being  possessed  of  ample  means, 
it  was  natural  that  Colonel  Wadsworth  should  become  interested 
with  those  gentlemen  in  the  land  speculations  that  followed  the 
establishment  of  peace  and  independence.  It  is  probable  that  he 
was  an  original  member  of  the  syndicate  acting  through  Messrs. 
Phelps  and  Gorham  —  it  is  certain  that  he  became  a  very  large 
owner  of  lands  on  the  Genesee  River  previous  to  1790.  The  result 
of  Mr.  James  Wadsworth's  visit  to  Hartford  was  a  proposal  on 
the  part  of  his  kinsman  to  sell  to  him  on  advantageous  terms  a 
portion  of  his  tract  at  Big  Tree  (Geneseo),  and  the  offer  of  an 
agency  that  would  embrace  the  care  and  sale  of  his  remaining 
lands.  James  was  then  but  twenty-two  years  old,  and  pioneer 
life  had  probably  never  been  included  in  any  horoscope  of  the 
future  he  had  cast  for  himself.  His  brother  William  was  six 
years  his  senior.  He  was  a  man  of  splendid  physique,  of  bound- 
less energy  and  force  of  character,  and  was  every  way  fitted  to 
encounter  and  overcome  the  perils  and  hardships  of  frontier  life. 
In  later  years,  his  superb  courage  was  shown  upon  the  battle- 
field of  Queenston,  where  he  dared  every  danger  in  seconding  the 
operations  of  General  Scott;  repeatedly  interposing  to  shield  the 
person  of  the  general,  whose  tall  form  attracted  unwelcome  atten- 
tion from  the  enemy's  marksmen.  Upon  consultation,  the 
brothers  jointly  accepted  the  proposition  made  them,  and  in  the 
spring  of  1790  began  preparations  for  their  migration  to  the 
then  far-off  wilderness.  James  started  by  wav  of  the 
Sound  and  the  Hudson,  and  continued  up  the  Mohawk  and  the 
Oswego  and  Clyde  rivers  to  the  head  of  navigation  on  Canan- 


daigua  outlet.  William,  the  practical  working  partner,  started 
across  country  with  an  ox  team  and  cart,  two  or  three  hired 
men,  and  a  colored  woman,  a  favorite  servant  of  the  family. 
Before  reaching  Utica  he  had  added  a  small  stock  of  cattle 
bought  along  the  Mohawk,  thus  early  giving  evidence  of  taste 
for  a  pursuit  which  continues  to  the  present  time  to  be  a  favorite 
one  with  the  family  —  the  breeding  and  rearing  of  cattle.  His 
progress  was  slow.  Logs  had  to  be  cut  and  moved  out  of  his 
track,  and  small  streams  and  sloughs  had  to  be  rudely  spanned 
and  causewayed.  There  was  no  ferry  at  Cayuga  Lake,  but 
Indian  canoes  were  lashed  together,  a  deck  was  made  of  poles, 
and  the  party  succeeded  in  crossing.  The  average  progress 
between  Fort  Stanwix  and  Canandaigua  was  about  twelve  miles 
per  day.  Arrived  at  Big  Tree,  the  question  of  shelter  was  soon 
settled,  Mr.  William  Wadsworth  hewing  logs  by  daylight  and  by 
torchlight  with  so  much  energy  that  in  a  few  days  a  rude  cabin 
lifted  its  humble  roof -tree  in  the  wilderness  —  the  first  abode  of 
a  family  well  and  widely  known  from  that  day  to  this. 

If  such  was  the  pioneer  experience  of  men  of  energy  and  cul- 
ture, with  ample  means  at  command,  what  must  have  been  the 
toil  and  privation  of  the  poorer  class,  which  constituted  the  great 
majority  of  settlers  in  the  new  region  ?  It  has  been  stated  by 
one  of  these,  that  not  one  in  ten  of  his  fellow  pioneers  could  have 
paid  in  cash  for  a  hundred  acres  of  land,  even  at  twenty-five  cents 
per  acre.  A  new  comer  with  five  hundred  dollars  in  money  was 
a  much  rarer  bird  then  than  millionaires  are  to-day  in  the  Gene- 
see Country. 

Fortunately,  it  did  not  take  money  to  buy  land,  else  settlement 
would  have  been  very  tardy.  It  could  be  readily  obtained  on 
long  credit  and  easy  terms,  and  there  was  little  else  for  sale. 
Merchandise,  even  in  the  way  of  articles  of  utility  and  necessity, 
was  as  scarce  as  coin.  One  or  two  instances  will  illustrate  this : 
As  late  as  1805,  Peleg  Redfield  —  father  of  Hon.  Heman  J. 
Redfield,  and  of  Lewis  Redfield,  the  pioneer  printer  of  Syracuse 
—  wishing  to  erect  a  frame  dwelling  on  his  farm  near  Clifton 
Springs,  put  fifty  bushels  of  wheat  on  an  ox  sled  and  drove  with 
it  to  Utica  for  the  purpose  of  exchanging  it  for  builders'  hard- 
ware. He  sold  his  wheat  for  $1.68  per  bushel,  and  bought 
window  glass,  putty,  nails,  and  other  material,  of  a  merchant  by 
the  name  of  Watts  Sherman.  The  bill  was  made  out  and  re- 
ceipted by  Henry  B.  Gibson,  who  was  a  clerk  for  Mr.  Sherman. 


It  is  hardly  necessary  to  state  that  Watts  Sherman,  Esq.,  of  the 
banking  firm  of  Duncan,  Sherman  &  Co.,  was  a  son  of  the  Utica 
merchant,  and  that  Henry  B.  Gibson  became  the  well-known 
railroad  man  and  banker  of  Canandaigua.  If  articles  of  util- 
ity and  necessity  were  thus  difficult  to  get,  luxuries  were  still 
more  difficult  to  obtain.  In  the  recollections  of  Ebenezer  Spear, 
of  Palmyra,  he  says :  "  The  wife  of  Webb  Harwood,  our  pre- 
decessor in  the  wilderness,  being  in  delicate  health,  her  indulgent 
husband  determined  to  procure  some  wine  for  her,  as  a  tonic. 
At  his  request,  I  went  to  Canandaigua  but  found  none, 
to  Geneva  and  found  none,  to  Utica  and  was  equally 
unsuccessful,  and  continuing  to  Schenectady  procured  six 
quarts  of  Charles  Kane.  I  was  fourteen  days  making 
the  journey  on  foot,  carried  my  provisions  in  a  knapsack, 
and  slept  under  a  roof  but  four  out  of  thirteen  nights."  If 
the  wine  was  as  good  as  the  act  of  procuring  it  was  neighborly, 
it  certainly  "  needed  no  bush."  The  frontiersman  often  carried 
his  grist  more  than  thirty  miles  to  mill  upon  his  back,  and  fre- 
quently walked  the  same  distance  to  procure  the  use  of  a  grind- 
stone. Bread  to  strengthen  his  arm,  and  a  sharp  axe  to  clear  up 
a  portion  of  "  the  continuous  woods,"  were  among  the  prime 
necessities  of  his  existence.  His  table  would  have  been  scanty 
had  not  "  Nature,  a  mother  kind  alike  to  all,"  come  bounteously 
to  his  succor.  Game  abounded.  The  woods  were  full  of  it. 
The  larger  streams  swarmed  with  salmon,  and  the  smaller  ones 
with  trout.  Next  to  his  axe,  his  rod  and  gun  were  the  most  im- 
portant articles  of  a  pioneer's  outfit.  Skill  in  their  use  was  a 
part  of  his  birth  and  training.  If  he  did  not  have  venison, 
partridge,  or  a  mess  of  trout  for  supper,  it  was  the  fault  of 
demand,  not  that  of  supply.  His  life  was  hard  enough  even 
with  these  now-a-day  luxuries  to  furnish  forth  his  meal. 

Let  us  look  for  a  moment  at  the  pioneer  and  his  surroundings 
after  he  had  arrived  at  the  spot  selected  for  his  future  home. 
The  perils  and  privations  of  the  journey  are  past  and  civilization 
is  behind  him.  Alone,  it  may  be,  or  perhaps  assisted  by  one 
or  more  stout-hearted,  ruddy  boys,  he  swings  the  axe  which 
clears  away  the  space,  and  furnishes  the  material  for  an  humble 
dwelling.  The  logs,  cut  and  notched,  but  not  hewed,  are  at  last 
ready  to  be  laid  one  upon  another  until  a  height  sufficient  for  the 
roof  poles  to  begin  is  reached.  A  kind-hearted,  helpful  neighbor 
or  two,  coming  perhaps  for  miles  through  the  forest,  assist  at 


the  raising.  If  it  is  too  late  for  the  bark  to  peel,  a  roof  of  pine 
and  hemlock  boughs  has  to  suffice  until  another  spring,  when 
bark  can  be  obtained.  Such  things  as  boards,  shingles,  nails, 
and  window-glass  are  not  within  any  possible  reach.  Openings 
are,  of  course,  left  for  doors  and  windows,  and  blankets  are 
hung  at  these  until  something  more  substantial  can  be  substi- 
tuted. If  a  bank  of  clay  is  within  reasonable  distance  it 
is  mixed  with  water,  and  the  crevices  between  the  logs  are  plas- 
tered with  it.  A  rude  chimney  built  of  sticks  and  laid  up  with 
similar  mortar  is,  perhaps,  constructed  —  if  not,  a  hole  in  the 
roof  at  one  end  of  the  cabin  permits  the  ingress  of  light  and  the 
egress  of  smoke  and  heat.  Questions  of  ventilation  and  plumb- 
ing are  not  discussed,  but  in  many  of  these  humble  structures 
men  and  women  lived  in  health  and  vigor  a  score  of  years  be- 
yond the  scriptural  allotment.  The  furniture,  brought  from  the 
East,  is  primitive  and  scanty,  and  only  in  rare  instances  included 
such  smart  articles  as  a  clock  or  bureau.  But  necessity,  the 
grandmother  of  genius,  and  mother  of  invention  (Pope  and  Gold- 
smith both  tell  us  that  invention  is  the  parent  of  genius),  im- 
provised a  mechanic  out  of  a  rude  farmer,  who,  without  tools  ex- 
cept an  axe  and  a  jackknife,  soon  fills  the  house  with  shelves, 
bunks,  benches,  tables,  brooms,  and  other  useful,  though  not 
ornamental,  articles  of  furniture.  This  sort  of  work  was  per- 
formed at  night  or  on  rainy  days.  From  early  dawn  to  twilight 
the  axe  of  the  pioneer  rang  through  the  surrounding  forest, 
until  a  space  had  been  cleared  upon  which  to  make  a  vegetable 
garden,  plant  corn,  and  sow  wheat.  Black  bass,  trout,  and 
salmon  are  very  nice  articles  of  food,  and  so  are  partridges, 
woodcock,  venison,  and  squirrel,  but  man  cannot  live  by  these 
alone,  any  more  than  he  can  by  bread ;  but  by  a  judicious  blending 
of  these  edibles  ought  to,  and  in  the  case  of  many  of  the  pioneers 
did,  suffice  for  daily  food  until  beef,  mutton,  pork,  chickens, 
eggs,  and  the  more  ordinary  vegetables  could  be  added  to  the 
daily  fare.  Wheat  and  corn,  when  obtained,  were  pounded  in  a 
stump  mill,  and,  unsifted  and  unbolted,  were  made  into  homely 
loaves  by  the  pioneer  mother.  The  stump  mill  was  made  by 
cutting  down  a  maple,  hickory,  or  other  hardwood  tree,  and  hol- 
lowing out  the  top  of  the  stump  until  it  would  contain  a  small 
quantity  of  grain,  which  was  pounded  with  a  stone  until  it  was 
sufficiently  soft  to  be  made  into  cakes  or  loaves.  But  having 
always   the   same   thing   would   make   appetite   revolt   at    Big- 


non,  Voisin,  or  Dclmonico's ;  and  so  it  is  small  wonder  that  the 
pioneer  has  been,  as  before  stated,  known  to  carry  his  grist 
upon  his  back  thirty  miles  to  mill  in  order  to  get  bolted  flour. 
While  land  was  cheap  and  abundant,  labor  was  scarce  and  dear. 
For  one  day's  work  a  laboring  man  could  buy  two  acres  of  as 
good  land  as  ever  the  sun  shone  upon.  Fifty  cents  per  acre 
was  the  current  price  of  the  soil,  but  to  clear  that  acre,  log  and 
burn  it,  and  fit  it  for  the  plow,  from  fifteen  to  twenty  dollars 
was  the  going  rate.  And  when  the  descendant  of  the  pioneer 
asks  why  his  great-grandfather  did  not  buy  more  land  at  the 
extremely  low  figures  asked  for  it,  the  cost  of  fitting  it  for  pro- 
duction will  be  a  sufficient  answer. 

Food  and  shelter  being  provided,  the  next  prime  necessity  of 
the  early  settler  was  clothing.  Flax  could  be  raised  in  abun- 
dance, but  it  was  almost  impossible  to  keep  sheep,  on  account  of 
those  howling  marauders,  the  wolves.  So  ravenous  were  they 
that  they  would  enter  the  settler's  dwelling  in  the  day  time  and 
seize  any  fresh  meat  within  their  reach.  A  loaded  rifle  was 
usually  kept  in  readiness  for  their  reception.  The  pioneer 
mother  was  the  Sartor  Resartus  of  her  time.  By  shifting  and 
turning,  by  patch  upon  patch,  she  managed  to  make  the  stock 
of  clothing  brought  in  by  her  family  last  them  until  further  sup- 
plies could  be  obtained  from  the  East,  or  sufficient  wool  could  be 
raised  to  meet  the  home  demand.  Let  us  glance  for  a  moment  at 
some  of  the  duties  performed  by  the  good  woman  at  the  head  of 
the  pioneer's  home.  She  did  all  the  labors  indoors,  and  was 
often  the  gardener,  as  well  as  cook,  washer,  ironer,  and  baker. 
She  carded,  spun,  wove,  dyed,  cut,  and  made  the  entire  clothing 
of  her  family,  both  male  and  female.  She  was  tailoress,  mil- 
liner, dressmaker,  chambermaid,  and  waitress.  Her  woolens  and 
linens  for  bedding  and  the  table  were  made  by  her  own  hand. 
She  pickled,  preserved,  and  dried  the  fruits  and  vegetables  of 
the  season  for  the  family  table.  And,  in  addition  to  all  this, 
she  bore  to  her  husband  a  numerous  household  of  vigorous, 
healthful  children,  whom  she  reared  in  honor  and  obedience  with- 
out assistance,  until  the  elders  had  attained  a  sufficient  age  to 
share  in  the  care  of  their  younger  brothers  and  sisters.  This 
seems  to  the  present  generation  to  have  been  a  hard  life,  and  so  it 
was,  but  many  of  the  pioneer  mothers  lived  to  receive  the  love 
and  homage  of  their  great-great-grandchildren. 

"  Who  can  find  a  virtuous  woman !    for  her  price  is  far  above 


rubies.  She  seeketh  wool,  and  flax,  and  worketh  willingly  with 
her  hands.  She  riseth  while  it  is  yet  night,  and  giveth  meat  to 
her  household,  and  a  portion  to  her  maidens.  Her  children 
arise  up  and  call  her  blessed,  her  husband  also,  and  he  praiseth 
her.  Many  daughters  have  done  virtuously,  but  thou  excellest 
them  all."  The  wise  man  seems  to  have  had  the  pioneer  mothers 
in  his  mind  when  he  wrote  his  inspired  description.  From  homes 
presided  over  by  such  mothers  men  went  forth  to  attain  dis- 
tinction in  every  line  of  human  endeavor.  The  Genesee  Country 
furnished  to  the  Government  six  of  its  cabinet  officers  —  four  of 
whom  were  residents  of  Canandaigua  —  and  a  President  in  the 
person  of  the  Hon.  Millard  Fillmore.  It  furnished  to  the  bench 
and  bar  the  names  of  Geo.  P.  Barker,  James  Mullett,  Henry 
Wells,  Vincent  Matthews,  Joi.n  Young,  George  Hosmer,  Wm. 
M.  Hawley,  Jno.  C.  Spencer,  Herman  J.  Redfield,  Evert  Van- 
buren,  Dudley  Marvin,  Albert  H.  Tracy,  Daniel  Conger,  Samuel 
Fitzhugh,  Mark  H.  Sibley,  Alvah  Worden,  Jared  Wilson,  Solo- 
mon K.  Haven,  Wm.  G.  Angel,  Martin  Grover,  Washington 
Hunt,  and  Charles  James  Folger.  A  much  longer  list  of 
representatives  of  the  other  learned  professions  might  be  named, 
and  then  the  half  would  not  be  told. 

Messrs.  Phelps  and  Gorham  and  their  associates  dealt  in 
principalities  larger  than  half  those  in  the  old  world,  upon  the 
business  principle  of  "  a  nimble  sixpence."  They  had  hardly 
completed  the  survey  of  their  domain  into  townships  and  ranges, 
when  they  sold  it  to  Mr.  Robert  Morris.  A  considerable  part  of 
it  had  already  found  owners,  and  this,  in  addition  to  reservations 
made,  constituted  more  than  one-half  of  the  original  tract.  The 
amount  conveyed  to  Mr.  Morris  was  about  one  million,  two 
hundred  thousand  acres.  The  price  paid  was  thirty  thousand 
pounds,  New  York  currency.  The  associates  had  thus  cleared 
a  handsome  sum  in  cash,  and  more  than  a  million  acres  of  land 
on  their  purchase  from  Massachusetts  —  a  fair  profit  on  a  busi- 
ness transaction  in  those  days.  When  the  pre-emption  line  as 
originally  run  was  corrected  by  transit  instruments,  the  land 
bought  by  Mr.  Morris  overran  about  one  hundred  and  twenty 
thousand  acres ;  but  as  the  deed  read  "  more  or  less,"  no  ac- 
count was  taken  of  this  trifle,  which  is  worth  to-day,  at  the 
moderate  price  of  fifty  dollars  per  acre,  nearly  six  millions  of 

The  conveyance  to  Mr.   Morris  had  hardly  been  completed 


when  he  placed  his  lands  on  sale  in  London  through  William 
Temple  Franklin,  a  kinsman  of  Dr.  Benjamin  Franklin,  offer- 
ing them  at  a  handsome  advance.  They  were  quickly  sold  for 
seventy-five  thousand  pounds  sterling  to  the  "  London  Associ- 
ates," who,  so  far  as  is  known,  comprised  but  three  gentlemen, 
Sir  William  Pulteney,  William  Hornby,  and  Patrick  Colquhoun. 
It  has  been  thought  that  Sir  William  Pitt,  who  was  intimate  with 
these  gentlemen  and  encouraged  their  enterprise,  had  an  interest 
with  them,  but  there  is  no  evidence  upon  which  to  base  the  sur- 
mise.     The  associates  were  men  of  distinction  and  ability. 

The  original  Pulteney  was  a  statesman  and  plutocrat  of  the 
reigns  of  George  I.  and  George  II.,  who  in  the  early  part  of  his 
career  was  a  member  of  Sir  Robert  Wal pole's  government,  and  one 
of  that  minister's  most  powerful  coadjutors,  but  having  quar- 
reled with  his  chief  he  became  as  strenuous  in  opposition  as  he 
had  been  in  support.  Macaulay  says :  "  Walpole  might  have 
averted  the  tremendous  conflict  in  which  he  passed  the  latter 
years  of  his  administration,  and  in  which  he  was  at  length  van- 
quished. The  opposition  which  overthrew  him  was  an  opposi- 
tion created  by  his  own  policy,  by  his  own  insatiable  love  of 

"  In  the  very  act  of  forming  his  ministry  he  turned  one  of 
the  ablest  and  most  attached  of  his  supporters  into  a  deadly 
enemy.  Pulteney  had  strong  public  and  private  claims  to  a  high 
situation  in  the  new  arrangement.  His  fortune  was  immense. 
His  private  character  was  respectable.  He  had  acquired  official 
experience  in  an  important  post,  and  was  a  distinguished 
speaker.  He  had  been  —  through  all  changes  of  fortune  — 
a  consistent  Whig.  When  his  party  was  split  into  two  sections, 
Pulteney  had  resigned  a  valuable  place  and  had  followed  the 
fortunes  of  Walpole.  Yet  when  Walpole  returned  to  power 
Pulteney  was  not  invited  to  take  office. 

"  An  angry  discussion  took  place  between  the  friends.  The 
minister  offered  a  peerage.  It  was  impossible  for  Pulteney  not 
to  discern  the  motive  of  such  an  offer.  He  indignantly  refused 
to  accept  it.  For  some  time  he  continued  to  brood  over  his 
wrongs  and  to  watch  for  an  opportunity  of  revenge.  As  soon 
as  a  favorable  conjuncture  arrived  he  joined  the  minority,  and 
became  the  greatest  leader  of  Opposition  that  the  House  of 
Commons  had  ever  seen."  * 

*  Review  of  Thackeray's  Life  of  Chatham. 


In  another  Review,*  Macaulay  tells  us  what  Akenside  ex- 
pected from  the  fall  of  the  tyrant  Walpole  and  the  elevation  of 
Pulteney : 

"  See  private  life  by  wisest  arts  reclaimed, 
See  ardent  youth  to  noblest  manners  f  ram'd." 

"  It  was  to  be  Pulteney's  business  to  abolish  faro  and  mas- 
querades, to  stint  the  young  Duke  of  Marlborough  to  a  bottle 
of  brandy  a  day ;  and  to  prevail  on  Lady  Vane  to  be  content  with 
three  lovers  at  a  time."  Researches  in  English  history  do  not 
enable  us  to  say  whether  Pulteney  succeeded  in  these  laudable 
undertakings  or  not.  The  great  rivals  were  at  length  "  kicked 
up-stairs  into  obscurity ;  "  Walpole  as  the  Earl  of  Orford  and 
Pulteney  as  the  Earl  of  Bath.  When  they  met  in  the  upper 
house  Walpole  extended  his  hand  to  his  old  opponent,  saying: 
"  Here  we  are,  my  lord ;  the  two  most  insignificant  fellows  in 
England."  ** 

The  Earl  of  Bath  left  no  heirs  of  his  body,  and  his  fortune 
succeeded  to  his  first  cousin,  Frances,  only  daughter  of  Daniel 
Pulteney,  who  became  the  wife  of  Sir  William  Johnstone,  who 
thus  acquired  the  great  Pulteney  property.  With  her  estates 
he  took  her  name,  becoming  known  as  Sir  William  Pulteney.  He 
died  in  1805,  one  of  the  richest  subjects  in  the  British  Empire, 
leaving  his  immense  fortune,  including  his  American  property, 
to  his  only  child  and  heiress,  Henrietta  Laura  Pulteney,  who  was 
created  Countess  of  Bath.  The  town  of  Bath  in  Steuben 
County  was  named  for  her.  A  town  in  Monroe  County  bears 
her  first  name,  Henrietta. 

Lady  Bath  died  in  1808,  leaving  no  children  and  no  will  of 
real  estate.  Her  lands  in  America  descended  to  her  cousin  and 
heir-at-law,  Sir  John  Lowther  Johnstone.  Dying  in  1811,  the 
latter  left  his  American  estate  to  trustees  for  the  benefit  of  his 
eldest  son  and  heir,  George  Frederick  Johnstone,  who  was  born 
in  1810,  married  in  1840,  and  died  in  May,  1841,  leaving  his 
widow  enciente.  She  gave  birth  to  twin  sons,  Frederick  and 
George  Kemper  Johnstone.  Coming  into  the  world  a  few  min- 
utes before  his  younger  brother,  the  title  and  estates  devolved 
upon  Sir  Frederick.  He  is  the  well-known  sporting  baronet, 
whose  colt,  Friars  Balsam,  was  first  favorite  for  the  Two  Thou- 

*  Walpole's  letters  to  Horace  Mann. 
*  Chesterfield  says  that    Pulteney    "  shrunk   into   insignificancy   and   an 




sand  Guineas  and  Derby  in  1888,  and  whose  defeat  and 
the  cause  winch  led  to  it  are  among  the  turf  sensations  of  that 
period.  Upon  examination,  after  being  beaten  for  the  Guineas, 
it  was  found  that  the  horse's  jaw  was  ulcerated,  the  result  of  a 
fracture.  No  explanation  of  this  remarkable  state  of  affairs 
could  be  given  bv  anyone  connected  with  the  stable.  It  is  sup- 
posed  that  Sir  Frederick  won  "  a  pot  of  money  "  over  Hermit's 
Derby,  when  the  Marquis  of  Hastings  was  ruined.  He  was 
the  onlv  outsider  who  had  the  tip  from  Mr.  Chaplin  and  Captain 

William  Hornby  had  been  Governor  of  Bombay  in  the  days 
of  Warren  Hastings,  and  had  returned  to  London  with  the  for- 
tune of  a  nabob.  Patrick  Colquhoun  was  eminent  as  a  states- 
man and  philanthropist,  had  been  Sheriff  of  Middlesex,  and 
representative  in  Parliament  of  the  aristocratic  Westminster 
district.*  A  marble  tablet  erected  to  his  memory  by  William 
Wood,  Esq.,  recording  a  few  of  the  principal  events  of  his  useful 
life,  occupied  for  many  years  a  niche  in  the  front  wall  of  the 
Congregational  Church  in  Canandaigua ;  but  iconoclastic  hands 
have  defaced  it,  and  substituted  another  inscription  on  the  same 
stone.  A  trustee  of  the  church  said  of  this,  that  there  seemed  to 
be  no  impropriety  in  removing  it,  as  Mr.  Colquhoun  had  never 
been  a  member  of  their  organization,  and,  so  far  as  he  knew,  had 
never  been  in  Canandaigua  or  in  any  way  interested  in  that  section. 
Yet  he  was  associated  with  all  the  Whig  statesmen  who  advocated 
in  Parliament  the  cause  of  the  Colonies,  and  denounced  the  coer- 
cive measures  of  the  king  and  his  ministers.  Burke,  Fox,  Pitt, 
and  Sheridan  were  among  his  intimates.  The  trustee  was  not 
bound  to  know  these  facts,  but  being  an  old  resident  he  might 
have  known  that  Mr.  Colquhoun  was  one  of  three  men  who  at 
one  time  owned  a  million  and  a  quarter  acres  of  land  surround- 
ing in  every  direction  the  church  which  for  a  time  bore  a  tablet 
to  his  memory.  The  interest  of  each  of  the  associates  in  the 
purchase  was  as  follows:  Sir  William  Pulteney  nine-twelfths, 
William  Hornby  two-twelfths,  and  Patrick  Colquhoun  one- 

The  associates  promptly  appointed  Charles  Williamson  their 
attorney  and  agent  to  promote  settlement  and  sale,  open  road>. 
and  make  other  improvements  upon  their  property.     To  facili- 

*  Mr.  Colquhoun  was  the  author  of  a  work  on  statistics,  and  "  The  Police 
of  the  Metropolis." 


tate  business  Mr.  Williamson  become  a  naturalized  citizen,  and 
title  was  taken  in  his  name.  He  was  the  friend  and  associate  of  his 
principals,  a  man  whose  intelligence  and  culture  had  been  rounded 
by  travel,  and  was  possessed  of  signal  ability  and  force  of 
character.  He  was,  however,  dashing  and  impulsive,  and  was 
imbued  with  the  singular  error  that  commercial  towns  and  villages 
can  be  built  up  in  advance  of  a  rural  population  to  sustain  them. 
But  for  the  hundreds  of  thousands  of  farmers  in  the  Northwest, 
there  would  be  no  Chicago;  and  New  York  would  be  an  unim- 
portant town  were  it  not  the  main  tributary  through  which  the 
production  and  consumption  of  more  than  sixty  millions  of 
people  flow. 

Mr.  Williamson  also  seemed  to  be  unaware  of  the  fact  that 
a  large  city  generally  grows  up  near  the  mouth  of  some  navigable 
stream  draining  a  fertile  country;  hence  he  ignored  Rochester 
and  its  water  power,  and  bent  his  energies  toward  establishing  a 
commercial  emporium  on  Sodus  Bay.  But  though  the  location 
reminded  him  of  the  Bay  of  Naples,  the  town  and  the  commerce 
failed  to  materialize.  His  travels,  however,  enabled  him  to  give 
names  to  the  handsome  villages  of  Geneva  and  Lyons.  The  first 
was  changed  from  Kanadasaga  because  Seneca  Lake  reminded 
him  of  Lake  Leman,  and  the  second  took  its  name  because  the 
confluence  of  Ganargwa  Crejek  and  the  Canandaigua  outlet  re- 
called to  his  mind  the  Rhone  and  the  Saone.  But  leaving  moods 
and  sentiment  aside,  there  is  little  doubt  that  his  energy  and  dash, 
seconded  by  the  abundant  means  of  his  London  principals,  for- 
warded settlement  on  their  purchase  by  more  than  half  a  score  of 
years.  In  1800  his  account  stood  as  follows:  Receipts,  $147,- 
974.83;  payments,  $1,374,470.10.  To  make  this  look  better 
there  was  on  hand  an  immense  tract  of  unsold  land,  mills,  hotels, 
and  other  town  property,  and  a  very  large  amount  outstanding 
against  lands  sold.  Credit  is  to  some  extent  due  him  for  the 
enhanced  value  of  the  estate  under  his  administration.  His 
principals  had  bought  it  for  about  thirty-five  cents  per  acre ;  he 
left  it  when  selling  at  from  $1.50  to  $4. 

Although  Mr.  Williamson  was  a  citizen  and  a  taxpayer,  and 
twice  represented  Ontario  County  in  the  Legislature,  he  was  never 
thoroughly  Americanized,  and  returned  to  Scotland  in  1803. 
He  had  early  retained  Aaron  Burr  as  counsel,  and  during  his 
attendance  upon  legislative  duties  in  Albany,  business  and  social 
relations  made  them  close  companions;  and  in  whatever  project 


Burr  had  at  the  South,  Williamson  would  probably  have  taken  a 
conspicuous  part  had  the  scheme  not  been  so  promptly  nipped  in 
the  bud. 

Mr.  Williamson  reconveyed  the  property  to  his  principals  as 
follows:  To  William  Hornby  and  Patrick  Colquhoun  by  deed 
bearing  date  December  13,  1800,  and  to  Sir  William  Pulteney 
by  deed  dated  March  5,  1801.  The  London  Associates  also 
owned  lands  on  the  military  tract,  and  in  the  counties  of  Albany, 
Montgomery,  and  Herkimer.  There  is  no  doubt  that  the  ex- 
travagant management  of  Mr.  Williamson  greatly  disappointed 
his  principals,  and  there  is  the  best  authority  for  saying  that 
Sir  William  Pulteney  seriously  contemplated  abandoning  his 
interests  in  the  Genesee  Country,  but  was  dissuaded  from  doing 
so  by  Williamson's  successor  in  the  agency,  Colonel  Robert  Troup. 
The  estate  was  divided  at  tins  period,  the  affairs  of  Messrs. 
Hornby  and  Colquhoun  passing  into  the  hands  of  John  John- 
stone, Esq.,  while  Colonel  Troup,  as  already  stated,  assumed  the 
management  of  the  Pultene}7  property.  Colonel  Troup's  successor 
was  Joseph  Fellows,  of  Geneva.  The  clerks  in  the  Geneva 
office  were  successively  Thomas  Goundry,  George  Goundry, 
William  Van  Wort,  David  H.  Vance,  Wm.  Young,  and  Jno. 
Wride.  Agents  at  Bath  have  been  James  Reese,  Samuel  L. 
Haight,  Dugald  Cameron,  William  McKay,  and  Benj.  F.  Young, 
the  latter  gentleman  being  in  charge  at  the  present  time. 

Upon  the  death  of  Mr.  Johnstone  in  1806,  Mr.  John  Greig 
succeeded  to  the  agency  of  the  Hornby  and  Colquhoun  estate, 
a  position  which  he  held  for  more  than  half  a  century.  Few  men 
were  better  or  more  favorably  known  in  Western  New  York 
than  Mr.  Greig.  A  native  of  Scotland,  he  came  to  Canandaigua 
in  1800,  and  was  among  the  foremost  of  a  conspicuous  galaxy 
of  names  that  made  the  handsome  town  famous  during  the  first 
sixty  years  of  its  history. 

Mr.  Greig  was  succeeded  by  his  chief  clerk,  William  Jeffrey. 
Upon  the  decease  of  the  latter,  the  management  of  the  estate 
passed  into  the  hands  of  Walter  Heard,  long  an  associate  clerk 
under  Mr.  Greig's  agency.  The  affairs  of  the  estate,  so  far 
as  realty  was  concerned,  were  closed  by  Mr.  Heard  about  fifteen 
years  ago,  but  the  heirs  of  Messrs.  Hornby  and  Colquhoun  still 
have  investments  here  in  personalty.  As  early  as  1850,  Mr. 
Greig  began  to  invest  a  part  of  the  surplus  receipts  of  his  prin- 
cipals in  the  railroads  that  now  form  the  New  York  Central, 


and  the  estates  of  Messrs.  Hornby  and  Colquhoun  were  consider- 
able holders  of  that  stock  when  it  was  doubled  by  Commodore 

In  1791,  soon  after  completing  his  sale  to  the  London  Associ- 
ates, Mr.  Morris  bought  from  Massachusetts  her  remaining 
lands  in  Western  New  York,  which  included  all  that  portion  of 
the  State  west  of  the  Genesee  River  except  the  mill  lot.  This 
was  the  tract  Messrs.  Phelps  and  Gorham  were  released  from 
taking  in  consequence  of  being  unable  to  extinguish  the  native 
title,  and  contained  more  than  4,000,000  acres.  Reserving 
700,000  acres  lying  along  the  westerly  bank  of  the  Genesee, 
he  sold  the  remainder  in  1792  or  1793  to  Herman  LeRoy, 
William  Bayard,  Gerrit  Boon,  John  Linklaen,  and  Matthew 
Clarkson ;  acting  as  agents  for  an  association  of  Amsterdam 
merchants  and  bankers,  known  as  the  Holland  Company.  Pos- 
sibly a  few  New  Yorkers  are  still  living  who  remember  the 
famous  mercantile  house  of  LeRoy,  Bayard  &  McEvers.  In  his 
terms  of  sale  Mr.  Morris  guaranteed  the  extinguishment  of  the 
native  title.  This  was  a  thing  easy  to  stipulate  but  hard  to  ac- 
complish, and  it  was  not  until  1797  that  he  succeeded  in  bring- 
ing the  Indians  to  terms.  In  that  year  a  council  fire  was  lighted 
at  Big  Tree,  which  was  attended  by  commissioners  on  the  part 
of  the  United  States,  the  State  of  Massachusetts,  and  the 
Holland  Company.  Thomas  Morris  and  Charles  Williamson 
represented  Robert  Morris.  The  then  unfinished  residence  of 
William  and  James  Wadsworth  was  used  for  the  accommodation 
of  those  directly  connected  with  the  negotiations.  The  pro- 
ceedings were  tedious,  and  at  one  time  threatened  to  become  abor- 
tive ;  but,  by  much  skill,  patience,  and  diplomacy  on  the  part  of 
Mr.  Thomas  Morris,  a  successful  conclusion  was  reached,  and 
what  is  known  as  the  Morris  Treaty  became  an  accomplished  fact. 

The  money  consideration  paid  to  the  Indians  was  one  hundred 
thousand  dollars.  President  Adams  directed  that  it  should  be 
invested  in  the  stock  of  the  United  States  Bank.  This  fund  has 
not  been  traced  beyond  its  original  disposition,  but  it  is  likely 
that  the  red  man's  money  went  with  the  white  man's,  in  the  crash 
that  caused  the  suspension  of  the  bank.  The  Indians  made 
numerous  reservations  of  land,  twelve  in  all,  amounting  to  about 
three  hundred  and  fifty  square  miles.  The  largest  of  these  were 
at  Buffalo  Creek,  Tonawanda  Creek,  Cattaraugus  Creek,  and 
Allegheny  River. 


As  soon  as  surveys  were  made,  the  lands  of  the  Holland  Com- 
pany were  opened  for  settlement ;  but  little  progress  was  made 
previous  to  1800. 

Real  estate  speculation  has  not  been  confined  to  any  country  or 
age.  Its  existence  antedates  Los  Angeles  and  Kansas  City. 
Probably  at  no  time  has  it  been  conducted  upon  a  more  gigantic 
scale,  so  far  as  area  is  concerned,  than  during  a  number  of  years 
succeeding  the  close  of  the  Revolutionary  struggle.  The  in- 
evitable collapse  came  and  carried  with  it  Mr.  Robert  Morris. 
The  half  million  acres  which  he  had  reserved  along  the  banks  of 
the  Genesee,  representing  a  part  of  his  profit  on  the  Massachu- 
setts purchase,  and  fondly  looked  upon  as  a  princely  domain  for 
himself  and  his  descendants,  was  parcelled  out  to  preferred 
creditors,  among  whom  was  John  B.  Church.  This  gentleman 
was  of  English  birth,  but  while  yet  a  young  man  had  emigrated 
to  Boston,  where  he  conducted  for  a  number  of  years,  and  with 
great  success,  the  business  of  an  underwriter.  Espousing  with 
zeal  the  cause  of  the  Colonies,  he  became  engaged  with  Jeremiah 
Wadsworth  in  the  commissary  department,  and  before  the  close 
of  the  war  had  made  the  acquaintance  of  General  Philip  Schuyler 

—  similarly  engaged  in  supplying  the  northern  division  of  the 
army  —  whose  daughter  he  married.  In  1785,  Mr.  Church 
removed  with  his  family  to  London,  and  resided  there  and  at  a 
country  seat  near  Windsor  Castle  until  1797,  when  he  returned 
to  New  York.  The  physician  of  King  George  the  Third  at- 
tended his  family,  and  imparted  to  Mr.   Church  in  confidence 

—  long  before  it  became  generally  known  —  the  fact  of  the 
mental  aberration  of  that  monarch,  the  development  of  which 
he  did  not  hesitate  to  attribute  to  the  loss  of  the  American 

During  his  residence  abroad  Mr.  Church  was  returned  to 
Parliament  from  Wendover,  became  a  favorite  of  Pitt  and  Fox, 
and  adhered  to  the  latter  gentleman  when  it  was  derisively  said 
of  him  that  "  he  and  his  party  could  drive  to  the  House  of  Com- 
mons in  a  hackney  coach." 

General  Alexander  Hamilton,  the  conspicuous  statesman,  pub- 
licist, and  financier  of  the  Revolutionary  period,  married  a 
daughter  of  General  Schuyler  and  was  a  brother-in-law  of  Mr. 
Church.  Acting  as  that  gentleman's  agent  during  his  resi- 
dence abroad,  he  loaned  to  Robert  Morris  $80,000,  taking  as 
security  a  mortgage  on  Morris  Square,  Philadelphia,  but  sub- 


sequently  transferred  the  lien  to  100,000  acres  of  land  on  the 
Morris  Reserve,  in  what  is  now  Allegany  County.  In  conse- 
quence of  Mr.  Morris's  pecuniary  troubles,  this  tract  was  sold 
in  1800,  by  Roger  Sprague,  sheriff  of  Ontario  County,  and  was 
bought  in  by  Philip  Church  for  his  father.  There  were  at  the 
time  but  three  white  settlers  in  all  that  region.  Careful  train- 
ing, as  we  have  seen  in  the  case  of  James  Wadsworth,  seems 
specially  to  fit  a  man  for  becoming  the  patroon  of  new  settle- 
ments. Judge  Philip  Church,  as  he  afterward  became,  was 
educated  in  Paris  and  at  Eton,  and  studied  law  with  his  uncle, 
Alexander  Hamilton.  With  advantages  and  connections  such 
as  fall  to  the  lot  of  few  men,  he  threw  them  aside  for  the  life  of 
a  pioneer  and  patroon  on  the  tract  of  which  his  father  had 
become  owner.  In  1803  he  erected  at  Belvidere  on  the  Genesee 
River  a  frame  house  which  for  years  was  the  only  one  in  that 
section.  Here  he  resided  during  more  than  half  a  century.  It  is 
said  that,  being  an  athlete  in  his  younger  days,  he  selected  the 
location  for  his  residence  by  climbing  tall  trees  on  the  hills  over- 
looking the  river  and  valley.  Settlement  was  slow  in  his  locality, 
and  it  was  not  until  the  boatman's  horn  on  the  Genesee  Canal  and 
the  screech  of  the  locomotive  on  the  Erie  Railway  resounded  in 
that  portion  of  the  southern  tier  that  his  splendid  patrimony 
attracted  the  attention  of  purchasers.* 

Besides  the  hundred  thousand  acres  foreclosed  by  J.  B. 
Church,  other  creditors,  of  Mr.  Morris  received  allotments  as 
follows :  Sterritt  &  Harrison,  of  Philadelphia,  175,000  acres  ; 
Willing  &  Francis,  37,000  acres;  the  State  of  Connecticut  and 
Sir  William  Pulteney,  100,000  acres,  and  LeRoy,  Bayard  & 
McEvers,  87,000  acres.  It  would  exceed  any  reasonable  limits 
to  trace  the  subdivision  and  settlement  of  these  tracts,  and  of  the 
lands  of  the  Holland  Company. 

Not  even  a  sketch  can  be  given  of  the  pioneers  on  the  Phelps 
and  Gorham  purchase,  but  portraits  of  some  of  the  more  promi- 
nent of  them  adorn  the  walls  of  the  Court  House  in  Canan- 
daigua,  and  we  may  step  in  and  look  at  their  intelligent, 
resolute,  honest  faces.  Here  are  Peter  B.  Porter  and  General 
Vincent  Matthews,  who  appeared  for  the  defense  in  the  first 
jury  trial  held  west  of  Herkimer  County.  Nathaniel  W. 
Howell,  who  appeared  for  the  prosecution ;  Augustus  Porter, 
an  early  surveyor  for  Mr.  Phelps  and  on  the  Holland  Purchase ; 

*  See  Turner's  History  of  the  Phelps  and  Gorham  purchase. 


Moses  Atwater,  the  first  physician ;  and  General  Chapin  and 
Jasper  Parrish,  the  first  Indian  agents.  (Mrs.  Barlow,  Mrs. 
Meagher,  and  Mrs.  Crawford,  of  New  York,  are  granddaugh- 
ters of  Captain  Parrish.)  There,  too,  are  Nathaniel  Rochester 
and  Judge  Fitzhugh,  natives  of  Virginia  and  Maryland,  and 
pioneers  in  the  southern  portion  of  Steuben  and  Livingston 
counties.  These  two,  in  connection  with  Charles  Carroll,  bought 
in  1802  the  hundred-acre  lot  on  which  a  portion  of  Rochester 
City  stands,  but  made  no  move  toward  an  improvement  of 
that  property  until  nearly  ten  years  later.  A  member  of  Jef- 
ferson's cabinet  is  here,  in  the  person  of  Gideon  Granger.  Here 
are  the  portraits  of  the  gentlemen  of  whom  some  account  has 
already  been  given  —  Oliver  Phelps,  Micah  Brooks,  William  and 
James  Wadsworth,  Philip  Church,  and  John  Greig.  And  here 
is  the  foremost  pioneer  of  them  all,  the  famous  sachem  and  orator 
of  the  Senecas  —  Red  Jacket.  He  appeared  for  the  defense 
in  the  first  trial  of  a  capital  crime  held  in  Ontario  County,  and 
saved  the  life  of  his  dusky  client.  Mr.  Greig,  who  as  district 
attorney  appeared  for  the  prosecution,  said  of  him,  "  I  am  but 
a  reed  compared  to  this  mighty  monarch  of  the  forest."  And 
here,  too,  are  some  of  the  later  representatives  of  that  aristo- 
cratic and  brilliant  society  which  made  the  little  town  famous 
at  the  bar,  in  the  halls  of  legislation,  and  in  the  cabinet,  during 
the  first  half  of  the  century.  They  are  Ambrose  and  John 
C.  Spencer,  Francis  Granger,  Mark  Hopkins  Sibley,  Alvah 
Worden,  Dudley  Marvin,  and  Jared  Wilson.  And  here,  as  law 
students,  growing  up  amongst  the  giants  of  those  days,  are 
Stephen  A.  Douglas,  Secretary  Folger,  and  Senator  Lapham. 
The  American  mind  is  eminently  practical.  Our  people  soon 
tire  of  details  and  ask  for  results.  The  Califomian  wants  to 
know  "  how  the  thing  panned  out?  "  and  the  Western  man  says 
"  how  did  it  materialize? "  and  the  Eastern  citizen  inquires 
"whether  the  balance  was  on  the  right  side  of  the  ledger?' 
Applied  to  operations  in  lands  in  the  Genesee  Country  the  answer 
to  these  questions  may  be  summed  up  in  a  general  statement 
that  the  results  to  individual  speculators  in  these  lands  were,  in 
the  main,  disastrous.  Very  few  of  this  class  made  and  kept  any 
money.  Of  the  settlers  on  the  Phelps  and  Gorham  purchase 
the  Wadsworths  are  almost  the  sole  exception  to  this  statement. 
They  still  own  thousands  of  acres,  parceled  out  in  improved 
and  fertile  farms,  and  are  adding  to,  rather  than  diminishing, 


their  holdings.  Col.  Church  still  has  a  fine  estate  in  Allegany 
County,  on  the  Morris  Reserve.  Aside  from  these,  there  are 
very  few  land  owners  anywhere  in  the  Genesee  region  whose 
holdings  amount  to  so  much  as  a  thousand  acres.  Small  farms, 
occupied  and  tilled  by  the  owners,  are  the  rule,  and  tracts  of  more 
than  five  hundred  acres  of  improved  land,  in  one  body  and  under 
one  control,  are  the  exception.  This  is  as  it  should  be.  When 
the  head  of  a  family  becomes  a  proprietor  of  the  soil,  and  especi- 
ally when,  as  Pope  says,  he  "  breathes  his  native  air,  on  his  own 
ground,"  he  has  gone  far  toward  laying  on  a  firm  basis  the 
foundation  of  good  citizenship.  Probably  nowhere  in  this 
country  is  there  a  more  intelligent,  independent,  and  thrifty 
body  of  men  than  the  farmers  of  Western  New  York. 

Dumas  says  the  philosophy  of  life  is  summed  up  in  three 
words  —  "  wait  and  hope."  But  very  few  Americans  have  the 
patience  to  wait  or  the  faith  that  hopes  on  and  ever.  Sanguine, 
daring,  and  venturesome  in  the  unfolding  and  early  development 
of  their  schemes,  they  seldom  have  the  courage  to  sit  down  and 
see  them  fructify.  As  agent  and  owner,  James  Wadsworth  had 
as  much  to  do  with  the  settlement  and  growth  of  the  region 
which  he  made  his  home  as  anyone  connected  with  its  history. 
Besides  his  own  affairs  and  those  of  his  kinsmen,  he  acted  as  agent 
for  Phelps  and  Gorham,  the  Holland  Company,  Sir  William 
Pulteney,  Lady  Bath,  and  others,  and  as  early  as  1796  had  vis- 
ited Europe  for  the  purpose  of  interesting  capitalists  abroad  in 
the  lands  of  the  Genesee  Country.  After  a  long  and  active  ac- 
quaintance with  the  subject,  his  experience  is  thus  expressed  in 
a  letter  to  a  friend,  he  says :  "  It  is  slow  realizing  from  new 
lands.  I  will  never  advise  another  friend  to  invest  in  them. 
Men  generally  have  not  the  requisite  patience  for  speculating  in 

Yet  the  increase  in  the  value  of  the  property  in  this  section, 
in  the  last  hundred  years,  suggests  the  tales  of  Aladdin.  It  was 
bought  in  1788  for  $300,000.  Its  assessed  value  in  1886  was 
$469,981,238  —  its  actual  value,  real  and  personal,  to-day,  is 
doubtless  more  than  $600,000,000.  It  is  often  asserted  that 
the  advance  in  real  estate  is  not  equal  to  the  accretion  of  money 
at  compound  interest.  While  this  assertion  may  hold  good  if 
carried  over  a  period  of  several  hundred  years,  yet  the  original 
purchase  price  agreed  to  be  paid  by  Phelps  and  Gorham  to  the 
State  of  Massachusetts  for  all  the  lands  west  of  the  pre-emption 


line  would  not,  if  compounded  and  doubled  every  ten  years,  be 
equal  to  one-half  the  value  of  the  realty  and  personalty  at  the 
present  time. 

The  London  Associates  realized  a  fair  return  on  their  Ameri- 
can investment.  With  true  British  tenacity,  they  clung  to  their 
lands  until  the  steadily-increasing  tide  of  emigration  and  settle- 
ment made  them  valuable.  A  very  small  proportion  of  their 
sales  were  made  for  cash.  Long  credits  were  the  almost  uni- 
versal rule,  but  they  were  quite  satisfied  with  the  legal  rate  of 
interest  on  bond  and  mortgage,  and  it  may  be  set  down  to  their 
credit  that  settlers  on  their  tract  showing  any  disposition  to 
clear  and  improve  farms  were  never  pushed  either  for  the 
interest  or  principal  of  their  indebtedness. 

It  was  the  completion  of  the  Erie  Canal,  however,  that  gave 
the  great  and  lasting  impetus  to  the  Genesee  region.  Previous 
to  that  event,  there  was  hardly  any  feasible  outlet  for  produce. 
Mr.  Williamson's  scheme  of  a  water  route  by  way  of  Lake  On- 
tario to  Europe  and  New  York  came  to  naught,  and  Sodus  Bay 
remains  up  to  the  present  time  a  resort  for  the  disciples  of  Isaak 
Walton  in  summer,  and  a  bleak,  boisterous,  ice-locked  place  in 
winter.  Navigation  to  Philadelphia  and  Baltimore  by  way  of 
the  creeks  and  rivers  of  the  southern  tier  emptying  into  the 
Susquehanna  was  tedious,  toilsome,  and  dangerous,  and  prac- 
ticable only  during  a  few  weeks  of  high  water  in  the  spring. 
"  Clinton's  Ditch  "  was  the  "  open  sesame  "  to  the  treasures  of 
Western  New  York.  It  quadrupled  the  value  of  every  acre 
of  land  on  the  Massachusetts  pre-emption.  If  ever  any  man 
deserved  a  monument  to  perpetuate  his  name  and  memory,  Dewitt 
Clinton  deserves  one  at  the  hands  of  the  fanners  of  the  Genesee 
region.  Before  the  canal  was  finished  there  was,  much  of  the 
time,  absolutely  no  market  for  the  farmer's  crops  and  stock. 
Merchants  often  refused  to  take  the  finest  quality  of  wheat  in 
barter  for  store  goods.  There  were  many  seasons  when  it  could 
not  be  exchanged  upon  any  terms  for  even  tobacco  and  whiskey. 
The  following  items  will  show  the  expense  of  wagon  haulage  in 
early  days  and  the  prohibitory  nature  of  that  mode  of  trans- 
portation. It  cost  $18  to  take  a  common  wagon  load  from  Geneva 
to  Le  Roy.  The  cost  of  hauling  a  load  of  goods  from  Albany  to 
Gansons  on  the  Holland  Purchase  was  $120.  Only  when  produce 
fetched  a  very  high  price,  as  it  did  in  exceptional  seasons,  could  it 
stand  this  mode  of  getting  to  market.      A  pioneer  farmer  says : 


"  In  1808  I  took  wheat  to  Canandaigua ;  there  was  no  price  and 
no  sale  for  it  there ;  no  exchanging  it  for  store  trade.  I  removed 
it  to  Geneva,  at  a  cost  of  123^  cents  per  bushel,  and  paid  a  debt 
I  owed  there  for  a  barrel  of  whiskey;  the  wheat  netting 
me  12^  cents  per  bushel,  or  one  gallon  of  whiskey 
for  six  bushels  of  wheat.  The  first  cash  market  was  at 
Charlotte;  price  31  cents  per  bushel."  In  the  same  year  Mr. 
Wadsworth  writes  to  Colonel  Troup :  "  It  is  a  fact  that  farmers 
have  been  compelled  to  sell  their  wheat  in  some  instances  for 
eighteen  pence  per  bushel,  to  pay  taxes."  In  another  letter  he  says : 
"  The  situation  of  the  inhabitants  in  this  part  of  the  country 
has  been  really  distressing;  a  farmer  might  have  1,000  bushels 
of  wheat  in  his  barn  and  yet  not  be  able  to  buy  a  pound  of  tea." 
In  still  another  letter,  speaking  of  the  scarcity  of  money,  he 
says,  "  You  would  be  surprised  to  know  the  rate  that  farmers 
with  granaries  full  of  wheat  are  paying  for  a  little  money  to 
meet  their  taxes."  There  was,  though,  enough  variation  in  the 
price  of  that  product  to  suit  the  veriest  Chicago  or  Cincinnati 
cornerer  of  to-day.  Only  two  years  previous,  in  1806,  wheat 
sold  at  $2.50  per  bushel,  and  at  various  later  periods  brought 
high  prices  —  selling  in  the  cold  season  of  1816  as  high  as  $3. 
The  canal,  when  finished,  gave  a  steady  and  reliable  market  for 
products  of  every  sort,  and  "  cash  for  wheat  "  met  the  eye  there- 
after on  more  than  one  signboard  in  every  market  town  in  the 
Genesee  Country. 

Although  settlement  on  the  lands  of  the  Holland  Company  was 
about  ten  years  later  than  on  the  Phelps  and  Gorham  purchase, 
it  did  not  progress  very  rapidly,  owing  to  the  fact  that  they  were 
farther  from  market  than  the  region  east  of  the  Genesee  River. 
The  company  offered  in  1821  to  assign  and  turn  over  to  anyone 
desiring  to  assume  its  position  at  that  time  its  property  of 
every  nature  and  description  and  all  its  receipts  to  date,  upon 
reimbursement  of  its  original  investment  with  interest  at  the 
rate  of  four  per  cent,  per  annum,  and  one  year  later  offered  to 
some  well-known  capitalists  all  its  unsold  lands  at  four  shillings 
per  acre.  Neither  of  these  offers  was  accepted.  The  company 
held  the  property  until  after  the  completion  of  the  canal,  and 
then  realized  a  fair  profit  on  its  purchase. 

Robert  Morris  died  in  New  Jersey  in  1806.  Although  at  one 
time  undoubtedly  the  richest  man  in  the  country  —  his  estate 
being  estimated  at  seven  or  eight  millions,  and  his  note-of-hand 


passing  current  like  bank  issues  —  he  left  no  property.  During 
the  last  years  of  his  life,  himself  and  wife  were  supported  by  an 
annuity  of  $1,500,  granted  her  for  life  by  the  Holland  Company, 
in  consideration  of  her  releasing  her  right  of  dower  in  the  lands 
of  the  Holland  Purchase. 

Oliver  Phelps  died  in  Canandaigua,  in  1809,  a  poor  man. 
Hardly  a  rood  was  left  to  his  family  of  the  princely  domain 
that  he  at  one  time  might  have  possessed  unincumbered.  Like 
his  associate,  Mr.  Morris,  his  early  success  in  the  Genesee  Coun- 
try led  to  his  downfall.  Elated  with  his  good  fortune  there,  and 
elected  to  Congress,  he  became  smitten  with  the  mania  for  specu- 
lating in  wild  lands,  which  began  about  1795-96,  and  made  rash 
ventures  in  almost  every  part  of  the  country.  The  American 
Land  Company  and  the  Georgia  Land  Company  were  among  the 
schemes  with  which  he  was  connected.  He  became  a  large  bor- 
rower at  home  and  abroad.  Pay  day  came  and  with  it  came 
ruin.  His  tombstone  in  Canandaigua  bears  this  mournful 
inscription :  "  Enterprise,  Industry,  and  Temperance  can- 
not always  secure  success,  but  the  fruits  of  those  virtues 
will  be  felt  by  society." 

A  few  words  of  local  reminiscence  will  complete  the  sketch  of 
the  Phelps  and  Gorham  purchase.  The  first  sale  made  by  them 
was  of  Township  No.  11,  Range  3,  which  then  included  both 
Farmington  and  Manchester.  The  latter  town  was  set  off  in 
1822.  Up  to  that  date  the  whole  was  known  as  Farmington.  The 
purchasers  were  Nathan  Comstock,  Abraham  Lapham,  Nathan 
Herendeen,  Doctor  Daniel  Brown,  Nathan  Aldrich,  and  others. 
Those  named  became  settlers  on  the  purchase.  Mr.  Comstock, 
his  two  sons,  and  Robert  Hathaway  arrived  in  1789,  made  a 
clearing,  built  a  cabin,  and  sowed  wheat.  John  Decker  Robin- 
son and  Nathaniel  Sanborn  were  the  first  arrivals  in  the  town  of 
Phelps  —  coming  in  with  Oliver  Phelps  in  1789.  Mr.  Sanborn 
had  charge  of  a  drove  of  cattle  intended  for  beef  to  be  distributed 
to  the  Indians,  at  the  treaty  which  it  was  supposed  would  be  held 
at  Canandaigua.  As  soon  as  land  sales  commenced,  Mr.  Robin- 
son bought  lot  No.  14,  Township  11,  Range  1,  located  at  what 
was  then  known  as  East  Vienna.  In  payment  he  erected  for 
Phelps  and  Gorham  —  partly  of  logs  and  partly  framed  —  a 
building  in  Canandaigua  which  was  used  as  a  land  office  and 
residence  by  the  pioneer  land  agent,  Mr.  Walker.  Mr.  Robin- 
son's son  Harry  was  the  first  white  male  child  born  in  the  town. 


Jonathan  Oaks  erected  a  large  framed  public  house  at  Oaks 
Corners  in  179-1.  It  was  the  second  framed  tavern  house  west  of 
Geneva,  and  was  regarded  as  a  wonder  in  those  days,  and  its 
enterprising  owner  was  thought  to  be  far  in  advance  of  the 
times.  As  early  as  1816,  the  lessees  of  this  stand  were  Joel  and 
Levi  Thayer,  who  afterwards  became  residents  of  Buffalo.  They 
established  at  Oaks  —  some  little  time  before  the  enterprising 
projector  of  Jerome  Park  and  Sheepshead  Bay  was  born  — 
the  long  celebrated  race  course  which  for  many  years  attracted 
annual  gatherings  of  turfmen  from  Long  Island,  New  Jersey, 
and  the  South.  It  was  for  a  number  of  years  under  the  man- 
agement of  Colonel  Elias  Cost,  a  native  of  Maryland,  who  settled 
at  Oaks  in  1800,  and  brought  with  him  a  taste  for  the  sports 
of  the  section  from  which  he  emigrated.  After  the  death  of 
his  first  wife,  who  was  a  daughter  of  Captain  Shekels,  Colonel 
Cost  married  the  widow  of  Thaddeus  Oaks  and  was  for  fourteen 
years  the  landlord  of  the  old  Oaks  stand. 

The  first  merchant  in  the  town  of  Phelps  was  John  R.  Green, 
an  Englishman,  who  opened  a  store  at  Oaks  Corners.  Leman 
Hotchkiss  and  David  McNeil  were  the  first  merchants  in  the 
village  of  Phelps,  then  known  as  Vienna.  Mr.  McNeil  was  the 
first  postmaster  there,  being  appointed  in  1801.  He  held  the 
position  until  his  death  in  1811.  Thirty-seven  years  in  one 
office  furnishes  to  the  powers  that  be,  and  that  are  to  be,  a  good 
lesson  in  civil  service  reform,  and  a  good  text  from  which  to 
write  a  homily  on  rotation  in  office. 

Captain  Jacob  Cost  settled  on  what  is  now  known  as  the  Sani- 
tarium Farm,  near  Clifton  Springs.  The  fine,  never-failing 
stream  of  water  running  through  it  probably  attracted  him  to 
this  spot.  There  is  little  doubt  that  this  farm  has  been  greatly 
improved  under  its  present  management,  and  it  furnishes  an 
optical  illustration  of  what  drainage,  fertilizing,  and  tillage, 
backed  by  ample  resources,  can  accomplish. 

The  following  may  be  mentioned  among  the  humors  of  local 
history :  At  the  census  of  1790  there  were  but  two  white  inhabit- 
ants in  the  town  of  Phelps  —  John  Decker  Robinson  and  Pierce 
Granger  —  and  they  did  not  recognize  each  other.  They  had 
quarreled  about  some  trivial  matter,  and  did  not  speak  as  they 
passed  by.  The  absurdity  of  the  situation  will  be  apparent  the 
more  it  is  reflected  upon.  In  1795,  Mr.  Charles  Williamson, 
agent  of  the  London  Associates,  learning  that  a  body  of  Scotch 


colonists  had  arrived  in  New  York,  and  were  looking  for  lands 
upon  which  to  settle,  set  out  post  haste  to  meet  them  and  induce 
them  to  locate  in  the  Genesee  Country.  He  conducted  a  com- 
mittee of  them  to  Geneva,  and  from  that  point  they  visited  vari- 
ous portions  of  the  tract  under  his  management.  They  liked 
the  lands  near  the  Sulphur  Springs,  now  Clifton.  Mr.  William- 
son, who  was  himself  a  Scotchman,  commended  their  choice,  and 
remarked  in  a  joking  way  that  the  water  of  the  springs  would  be 
handy  as  an  antidote  for  the  national  disease.  Strange  to  say — 
and  in  direct  contradiction  to  Sidney  Smith  and  his  surgical 
operation,  and  to  the  story  of  the  steam  drill  —  Sandy  saw  the 
joke,  and  the  negotiations  ended  then  and  there.  The  humor 
of  this  anecdote  is  apparent  in  more  ways  than  one. 


IF  HALF  the  interesting  and  important  facts  were  set  forth 
concerning  the  transaction  by  which  Mr.  Robert  Morris 
conveyed  to  a  number  of  capitalists  of  the  city  of  Amster- 
dam a  tract  of  land  in  Western  New  York  considerably 
greater  in  extent  than  the  Kingdom  of  Holland,*  they  would  fill 
a  number  of  volumes  larger  than  this.  There  is  ample  material 
for  biography.  More  than  a  score  of  men  eminent  in  commerce, 
finance,  law,  and  statesmanship  had  a  direct  personal  and  pecuni- 
ary interest  in  this  famous  negotiation,  from  its  inception  in 
1791  to  its  close  in  1848.  Their  names  will  be  mentioned  from 
time  to  time  as  this  story  progresses,  and  merely  mentioned,  in 
connection  with  the  part  they  took  in  the  early  history  and  set- 
tlement of  the  Genesee  Country.  Still  more  abundant  materials 
exist  for  narrative  that  would  be  most  interesting  to  local 
readers.  But  if  these  things  were  within  my  capacity,  which  I 
gravely  doubt,  they  are  not  within  the  scope  and  plan  of  an 
undertaking  the  object  of  which  is  to  set  forth  only  such  of  the 
prominent  facts  connected  with  the  history  of  the  Holland  Pur- 
chase as  may  enable  the  reader  to  form  a  general  idea  of  the 
origin,  rise,  progress,  and  conclusion  of  the  transaction.  During 
his  confinement  for  debt  under  the  barbarous  laws  inherited  by 
us  from  the  mother  country,  which  have  been  abrogated  by  a 
later  and  wiser  generation,  Mr.  Morris  wrote  a  statement  of  his 
business  affairs  which  was  published  in  pamphlet  form,  a  copy 
of  which  I  have  been  permitted  to  see  by  the  courtesy  of  Richard 
Church,  Esquire,  of  Belvidere,  Allegany  County.  I  shall  there- 
fore let  Mr.  Morris  tell  in  his  own  words  the  story  of  his  purchase 
from  the  State  of  Massachusetts  of  all  the  lands  in  the  State  of 
New  York  lying  west  of  the  Genesee  River  —  except  the  Mill 
Lot,  given  to  Messrs.  Phelps  and  Gorham  by  the  Seneca  Indians 
—  and  a  few  small  reservations  on  the  lakes  and  Niagara  River 

*  The  Holland  Purchase  contained  over  5,600  square  miles.  North  and 
South  Holland  combined  contain  only  2,212,  and  the  Kingdom  of  the 
Netherlands,  including  the  Grand  Duchy  of  Luxemburg,  only  13,584  square 



upon  which  forts  and  other  Government  property  liad  been 
erected,  and  his  subsequent  sale  of  the  greater  portion  of  his 
purchase  to  the  Hollanders. 

He  says :  "  I  shall  begin  with  the  lands  purchased  in  the 
Genesee  Country,  acknowledging  that  if  I  had  contented  myself 
with  those  purchases,  and  employed  my  time  and  attention  in  dis- 
posing of  the  lands  to  the  best  advantage,  I  have  every  reason 
to  believe  that  at  this  day  I  should  have  been  the  wealthiest 
citizen  of  the  United  States.  That  things  have  gone  otherwise 
I  lament,  more  on  account  of  others  than  on  my  own  account,  for 
God  has  blessed  me  with  a  disposition  of  mind  that  enables  me 
to  submit  with  patient  resignation  to  His  dispensations  as  they 
regard  myself. 

"  In  the  year  1790,  I  purchased  of  Messrs.  Phelps  and  Gor- 
ham  a  tract  of  country  in  the  Genesee  district  warranted  to  con- 
tain not  less  than  one  million  of  acres,  and  sold  the  whole  of  that 
purchase  in  the  year  1T91  in  England  to  handsome  profit,  but 
which  was  reduced  by  discounts  and  other  circumstances  so  as  to 
close  with  less  than  I  had  at  first  expected. 

"  This  purchase  gave  me  an  insight  into  the  situation  and 
circumstances  of  the  remaining  lands  in  that  country,  the  right 
of  pre-emptive  purchase  from  the  Indians  being  in  the  State 
of  Massachusetts.  I  took  measures,  and  in  the  year  1791 
bought  a  tract  of  the  said  State,  for  which  I  paid  at  different 
periods  £100,000  lawful  money,  equal  to  £125,000  Pennsylvania 
currency,  with  heavy  interest,  besides  other  sums  paid  for  various 
objects  in  connection  therewith.  In  this  purchase,  Mr.  Samuel 
Ogden,  who  assisted  in  making  it,  had  an  interest  of  300,000 
acres,  his  brother-in-law,  G.  Morris,  Esq.  —  who  was  expected 
to  assist  in  making  sales  in  Europe  —  had  an  interest  of  250.000 
acres;  Richard  Soderstrom,  100,000  acres;  and  William  Con- 
stable, 50,000  acres.  The  whole  purchase  was  estimated  at  four 
millions  of  acres,  and  upon  actual  survey  yielded  rather  more. 

"  This  land  was  by  imaginary  meridian  lines  divided  into 
five  tracts  or  parcels,  of  which  No.  1  began  at  that  point  on  the 
northern  boundary  line  of  Pennsylvania  where  Phelps  and 
Gorham's  western  boundary  intersected  the  same,  and  from 
thence  running  westerly  twelve  miles  to  a  point  from  which  the 
first  meridian  running  into  Lake  Ontario  forms  the  western 
boundary  of  the  said  Tract  No.  1,  Lake  Ontario  the  northern 
boundary,  Phelps  and  Gorham's  west  line  and  the  Genesee  River 


the  eastern  boundary,  and  the  Pennsylvania  line  the  southern 
boundary.  This  tract  so  bounded  was  then  computed  to  con- 
tain 500,000  acres,  but  on  actual  survey  was  found  to  contain 
much  more. 

"  No.  2  commenced  at  the  point  on  the  Pennsylvania  line  where 
No.  1  ended,  running  thence  sixteen  miles  west,  and  from  that 
point  a  northern  meridian  line  to  Lake  Ontario  formed  the  west- 
ern boundary ;  Lake  Ontario  formed  the  northern  boundary,  the 
west  meridian  line  of  Tract  No.  1  the  eastern  boundary,  and  the 
Pennsylvania  line  the  southern  boundary,  and  was  estimated  to 
contain  800,000  acres. 

"  No.  3  commenced  where  No.  2  ended,  running  sixteen  miles 
west,  then  a  meridian,  etc.,  as  above. 

"  No.  4  commenced  where  No.  3  ended,  running  sixteen  miles 
west,  then  a  meridian,  etc.,  as  before. 

"  No.  5  commenced  where  No.  4  ended,  and  runs  west  on  the 
Pennsylvania  line  to  the  point  on  the  said  line  where  the  east 
boundary  of  the  land  called  the  Pennsylvania  Triangle  strikes 
the  same,  and  is  bounded  on  the  west  by  the  east  line  of  the  said 
triangle,  by  Lake  Erie,  and  by  the  land  called  the  New  York 
Reservation  on  the  east  side  of  Niagara  River,  on  the  north 
by  Lake  Ontario,  on  the  east  by  the  west  line  of  No.  4,  and  on 
the  south  by  the  Pennsylvania  line. 

"  I  have  thought  this  account  of  these  divisions  necessary  to 
a  true  understanding  of  the  sales  and  grants  hereafter  men- 
tioned —  especially  of  Tract  No.  1 ,  to  an  account  of  which  I  now 
proceed : 

"  In  1791  I  borrowed  of  Colonel  W.  S.  Smith,  of  New  York, 
who  was  then  agent  to  Mr.  Pulteney  and  Governor  Hornby, 
$100,000  and  mortgaged  the  tract  No.  1  to  secure  the  repay- 
ment of  that  sum  in  six  per  cent,  stock  and  interest. 

"  100,000  acres,  part  of  tract  No.  1,  was  sold  to  Messrs. 
Watson,  Cragie  &  Greenleaf  in  1792. 

"  86,973  acres,  part  of  same  tract,  was  sold  to  LeRoy  & 
Bayard  in  January,  1793. 

"  33,750  acres,  part  of  same,  was  sold  to  Andrew  Cragie  in 

"  50,000  acres,  part  of  same,  was  sold  to  Samuel  Ogden  in 


"  50,000  acres,  part  of  same,  was  conveyed  in  trust  to  Captain 
Charles  Williamson,  who,  as   attorney  for  Mr.   Pulteney,  dis- 


charged  the  mortgage  on  tract  No.  1  and  accepted  this  50,000 
acres  as  security  for  half  the  debt  of  $100,000,  the  other  half 
having  been  paid. 

"  100,000  acres,  part  of  said  tract  No.  1,  was  mortgaged  to 
Alexander  Hamilton  for  the  use  of  John  B.  Church,  to  secure 
the  payment  of  $81,679.44  with  interest,  which  I  owed  him 
(Church).     This  mortgage  is  dated  May  31,  1796. 

"  175,000  acres,  part  of  said  tract  No.  1,  was  conveyed  to 
Samuel  Sterett  to  secure  the  payment  of  the  balance  I  owed  to 
him  and  to  Sterett  &  Harrison,  estimated  by  their  accounts  at 
$400,136.92,  but  which  upon  examination  of  accounts  I  have  re- 
duced to  $302,919.30,  which  I  believe  is  correct,  or  nearly  so. 
This  conveyance  is  dated  May  4,  1797. 

"  5,120  acres,  part  of  tract  No.  1,  being  an  undivided  half 
of  a  tract  called  Mount  Morris,  given  by  me  to  my  son  Thomas 
Morris  from  motives  of  affection,  and  in  consideration  of  services 
he  had  rendered,  and  then  expected  to  render,  and  which  he  hath 
since  faithfully  rendered  to  me  in  that  country  —  given  by  letter 
dated  16th  February,  1793,  and  confirmed  by  deed  dated  27th 
November,  same  year. 

"  5,120  acres,  the  other  undivided  half  of  Mount  Morris, 
conveyed  to  Thomas  Fitzsimons  by  deed  dated  25th  January, 
1798,  in  part  security  of  the  debt  I  owe  him. 

"  9,600  acres  granted  to  Smith  &  Jones,  Indian  interpreters, 
upon  terms  expressed  in  my  contract  with  them  dated  28th 
April,  1792. 

"  40,000  acres  mortgaged  to  the  Holland  Company  to  secure 
the  repayment  of  $40,000  they  advanced  to  me,  and  after  them  to 
Messrs.  Wilhelm  and  Jan  Willink,  of  Amsterdam,  as  security  for 
a  debt  due  to  them.     This  mortgage  is  dated  December,  1796. 

"  110,258  acres,  part  of  said  tract  No.  1,  conveyed  to  Thomas 
Fitzsimons,  Joseph  Higbee,  and  Robert  Morris,  Jr.,  in  trust  to 
secure  the  payment  of  certain  debts  in  that  deed  enumerated, 
being  debts  arising  from  disinterested  loans  of  money  or  names, 
or  attended  with  circumstances  that  rendered  them  of  superior 
claim  upon  my  justice  or  integrity.  This  conveyance  is  dated 
14th  February,  1798,  and  was  drawn  and  executed  when  I  had 
not  all  the  books  and  papers  necessary  to  enable  me  to  ascertain 
balances  and  claims  accurately ;  which  will  account  why  many 
sums  are  mentioned  in  round  numbers,  and  if  an}'  of  my  creditors 
are  omitted  that  upon  the  same  principles  ought  to  have  been 


included  it  is  to  be  attributed  to  the  absence  of  books  and 
papers,  and  not  to  any  desire  to  discriminate  improperly. 

"  According  to  this  disposition  the  tract  No.  1  appears  to 
contain  765,641  acres ;  but  owing  to  one  of  those  unfortunate 
mistakes  which  a  division  of  large  tracts  of  land  at  different 
periods,  without  actual  surveys,  subject  the  divider  to  make,  it 
hath  happened  so  that  a  grant  to  the  Holland  Company  inter- 
sects and  interferes  with  grants  to  A.  Cragie,  S.  Ogden,  G. 
Cottringer,  and  A.  Hamilton ;  by  which  means  a  foundation  is 
laid  for  disputes  between  the  parties,  which  I  regret  very  much. 
It  is  also  discovered  upon  actual  survey  that  the  boundaries 
of  Mount  Morris  and  of  the  Jones  and  Smith  tract  intersect,  so 
that  the  two  together  do  not  contain  the  quantity  intended,  and 
one  or  the  other  must  lose  the  deficiency  unless  otherwise  settled 
by  compromise.  I  suppose  the  whole  deduction  from  the  quan- 
tity of  765,641  acres  granted  in  tract  No.  1  will  not  amount  to 
65,641  acres. 

"  This  tract  No.  1  is  involved  in  the  following  circumstances : 
The  mortgage  to  Colonel  Smith  was  made  by  deed  and  defeaz- 
ance.  The  deed  was  recorded  in  the  office  of  the  Secretary  of 
State  of  New  York  at  the  time  of  execution  or  soon  after. 
The  defeazance  was  neglected  to  be  put  upon  record  until  the 
present  year.  In  the  meantime  Colonel  Smith  conveyed  to  Col- 
onel Benj.  Walker,  upon  the  latter  becoming  the  agent  of 
Mr.  Pulteney.  Colonel  Walker  conveyed  to  Garret  Cottringer 
in  trust  for  me  upon  Captain  Williamson's  release.  Messrs. 
Willings  &  Francis,  by  their  attorney  in  New  York,  are  pursuing 
in  the  law,  as  I  am  informed,  this  property  as  his  (Cottringer's) 
because  his  name  was  used,  but  in  which  he  had  not  one  cent 
of  concern  or  interest.  Colonel  Burr,  as  attorney  for  Messrs. 
Levi  Hollingsworth  &  Son,  obtained  a  judgment  by  process  of 
outlawry  under  which  it  was  meditated,  as  I  have  been  told, 
to  sell  the  whole  of  my  purchase.  I  have  also  been  informed 
that  a  judgment  was  obtained  and  some  sales  made  by  Mather 
and  others. 

"  The  oldest  judgment  against  me  in  the  State  of  New  York 
was  one  to  William  Talbot  and  William  Allum,  under  which 
(as  is  said)  all  my  rights  and  claims  in  the  Genesee  Country  have 
been  executed  and  sold  by  the  sheriff.  In  the  mortgages  to 
Alexander  Hamilton  for  J.  B.  Church ;  Samuel  Sterrett  for 
Harrison  &  Sterrett;  the  Holland  Company  and  Messrs.  Wil- 


links;  and  the  trust  deed  to  Messrs.  Fitzsimons,  Higbee,  and 
Robert  Morris,  Jr.,  the  right  of  redemption  or  surplusage,  if 
any,  was  reserved  to  me,  my  heirs  or  assigns,  which  has  induced 
me  to  give  this  long  detail  to  enable  my  creditors  to  regulate 
their  expectations  from  this  source. 

"  Of  the  other  four  tracts,  Nos.  2,  3,  4,  and  5,  sales  were 
made  as  follows : 

"  1,500,000  acres  were  sold  to  Mr.  Cazenove  and  conveyed 
to  Herman  LeRoy  and  John  Lincklaen.  This  sale  was  made 
conditional  by  certain  articles  of  agreement,  and  held  at  the 
option  of  the  purchasers  to  make  it  a  sale  or  a  mortgage  at  a 
time  fixed,  and  at  that  time  they  elected  to  make  it  a  purchase, 
whereby  it  was  supposed  the  deeds  of  conveyance  became  absolute, 
and  this  was  my  opinion,  as  I  always  after  that  election  did  con- 
sider the  sale  as  absolute  ;*  but  after  the  Indian  Right  was  pur- 
chased, Mr.  Cazenove  thought  proper  to  get  deeds  of  confirmation 
drawn  which  he  presented  and  left  for  my  examination,  and  to  be 
executed.  Instead  of  examining  them  myself  I  put  them  under 
the  inspection  of  two  gentlemen  bred  to  the  law,  who  very  soon 
informed  me  that  from  the  nature  of  the  writings  and  circum- 
stances relating  to  this  1,500,000  acres  I  had  an  equal  right  with 
the  purchasers  to  elect  whether  it  should  be  a  sale  absolute  or  a 
mortgage ;  in  the  latter  case  to  be  redeemed  by  repayment  of 
the  consideration  money  (£112,500  sterling)  and  interest,  agree- 
ably to  the  articles  of  agreement.  And  it  was  urged  that  as  my 
affairs  were  then  so  deranged  that  I  was  obliged  to  keep  close 
house,  it  might  become  my  duty  to  reserve  this  right  to  my  cred- 
itors and  not  to  sign  the  deeds  of  confirmation.  To  this  reason- 
ing I  submitted  reluctantly  because  I  thought  the  sale  a  fair  one, 
intended  at  the  time  by  me  to  be  positive,  and  if  my  affairs  had 
been  in  such  a  situation  as  that  no  creditors  could  have  been 
affected  I  certainly  would  have  signed  the  new  deeds  without 
hesitation ;  that  I  did  not  do  it  was  to  me  a  matter  of  regret, 
under  which  I  have  never  felt  perfectly  satisfied.  By  this  detail 
my  creditors  are  informed  of  this  claim;  at  the  same  time  it 
must  be  mentioned  that  the  Holland  Company  became,  it  is  said, 
the  purchasers  of  all  my  rights  and  claims  in  the  Genesee  tract 
under  the  judgment  and  execution  of  Talbot  and  Allum  as  well 
as  that  obtained  by  Colonel  Burr. 

"  1,000,000  acres,  sold  in  Holland  by  my  son  Robert  as  my 

*  It  became  an  absolute  sale. 


attorney,  was  conveyed  to  Herman  Le  Roy  and  John  Lincklaen 
by  deed  dated  27th  February,  1793. 

"  800,000  acres,  sold  by  my  son  in  Holland,  were  by  me  con- 
veyed to  John  Lincklaen  and  Garrit  Boon  by  deed  dated  20th 
July,  1793. 

"  200,000  acres,  sold  by  my  son  in  Holland,  were  conveyed 
to  Le  Roy  &  Bayard  and  Matthew  Clarkson  by  deed  dated  20th 
July,  1793. 

"  100,000  acres,  in  two  parcels  of  54,000  and  46,000  each, 
sold  by  my  son  in  Holland,  were  conveyed  to  Messrs.  Le  Roy, 
Bayard,  and  Clarkson  by  deed  dated  20th  July,  1793. 

"  The  Holland  Company,  upon  Mr.  Ellicott's  survey,  claim 
reimbursement  according  to  covenants  for  a  deficiency  of  119,562 
acres  within  the  boundaries  of  the  conveyances  made  to  their 
agents.  And  I  am  informed  that  according  to  Mr.  Ellicott's 
survey  there  is  a  quantity  of  about  1,490  acres  remaining  to  me 
as  not  being  included  in  any  of  the  grants,  but  this  is  included  in 
the  sale  under  the  Talbot  and  Allum  judgments. 

"  The  Indians  at  the  treaty  held  with  them  in  September,  1797, 
reserved  sundry  tracts  in  various  parts  of  my  purchase  amount- 
ing to  upwards  of  200,000  acres,*  in  which  they  now  hold  their 
original  right  and  occupy  the  same.  The  purchasers  within 
whose  tracts  these  reservations  lie  look  to  me  to  purchase  the 
Indian  rights  whenever  the  Indians  shall  be  willing  to  sell." 

So  far  Mr.  Morris.  Probably  no  better  occasion  will  offer 
to  correct  some  general  impressions  regarding  him.  It  has  been 
commonly  thought  that  his  pecuniary  troubles  arose  from  his 
advances  to  the  Colonies  during  the  Revolutionary  struggle. 
Nothing  can  be  farther  from  the  truth.  He  was  reimbursed  in 
full,  and  at  the  time  of  his  failure  was  indebted  to  the  Govern- 
ment. Nor  did  the  Genesee  Country  contribute  toward  his 
downfall.  On  the  contrary,  his  cash  profits  in  that  section  must 
have  amounted  to  half  a  million,  with  700,000  acres  of  land 
thrown  in,  worth  at  the  time  of  his  troubles  at  least  half  a 
million  more.  It  was,  perhaps,  this  very  success  which  led  to  his 
ultimate  ruin.  Take,  for  example,  the  money  lost  in  the  North 
American  Land  Company,  whose  capital  consisted  of  six  million 
acres  of  wild  land  in  the  States  of  Pennsylvania,  Virginia,  North 
Carolina,  South  Carolina,  Georgia,  and  Kentucky.  Mr.  Morris 
organized  a  stock  company  with  these  lands  as  a  basis,  and  guar- 

*  They  amounted  to  over  300,000  acres. 


anteed  purchasers  of  the  stock  six  per  cent,  income  on  their 
investments.  His  partners  in  this  transaction  were  John  Nichol- 
son and  James  Greenleaf,  optimists  of  the  rosiest  hue,  who  mis- 
takenly supposed  that  their  associate  waved  the  wand  of  Midas. 
But  the  fact  is  that  Mr.  Morris  was  never  half  as  wealthy  as  he 
supposed  himself  to  be.  He  had  ventures  upon  every  sea  and 
in  every  port.  His  credit  was  high  and  upon  that  he  traded. 
He  was  always  a  heavy  borrower  and  the  rates  of  interest  in  his 
day  would  now  be  thought  exorbitant  and  crushing.  His  partner 
Nicholson,  who  had  been  Controller  General  of  Pennsylvania,  be- 
came a  public  defaulter  and  died  in  prison,  but  not  until  he  had 
ruined  Mr.  Morris.  I  quote  from  the  latter's  statement: 
"  Ledger  C,  Folio  161.  This  is  an  unsettled  account,  and  I 
suppose  ever  will  be  so.  Here  began  that  ruin  which  has  killed 
poor  Nicholson  and  brought  me  to  the  necessity  of  giving  an 
account  of  my  affairs  —  but  I  will  forbear  to  say  more,  lest  I 
should  not  know  when  or  where  to  stop."  The  fact  is  that  Messrs. 
Morris  and  Nicholson  kited  paper.  So  long  as  the  paper  went 
without  question  their  affairs  seemed  to  prosper ;  but  the  moment 
the  least  breath  of  distrust  was  blown  upon  it,  their  fabric  of 
credit  tumbled  into  inextricable  confusion  about  their  ears.  I 
quote  again  :  "  John  Nicholson  deceased.  Ledger  C,  Folios  19, 
60,  84,  90,  172,  223.  A  heavy  balance  will  be  found  due  to  me 
on  the  accounts  depending  between  this  my  fellow-sufferer  and 
myself  —  probably  upwards  of  $600,000  specie,  when  all  entries 
are  made  that  the  transactions  require.  With  the  purest  inten- 
tions, he  unfortunately  laid  a  train  that  ended  as  it  hath  done.  I 
here  say  that  he  laid  the  train,  because  there  are  living  witnesses 
that  I  opposed  as  soon  as  I  knew  it ;  although,  from  infatuation, 
madness,  or  weakness,  I  gave  way  afterwards."  Though  Mr. 
Morris  was  a  patriotic  citizen  and  a  scrupulous,  honorable  mer- 
chant, he  was  at  the  same  time  a  sanguine  speculator  upon 
borrowed  capital,  and  not  wholly  blameless,  as  quotations  from 
his  own  hand  show,  for  the  financial  troubles  that  overtook  him. 
I  quote  once  again:  "  It  is  well  known  that  Mr.  Nicholson  and 
myself  owe  a  very  large  debt  by  notes  drawn  and  endorsed  by 
each.  The  issuing  of  these  notes  is  the  blamable  part  of  our 
conduct,  which  we  have  both  felt  and  acknowledged." 

Two  or  three  more  extracts  from  Mr.  Morris's  statement  will 
be  given  for  the  purpose  of  showing  his  justice,  integrity,  and 
humanity.     Of  his   account  with  Garrett  Cottringer  he   says: 


"  This  account  as  it  now  stands  on  my  books  differs  in  one  article 
from  his  rendered  to  me,  wherein  he  charges  considerably  more 
for  compensation  for  services  than  I  have  credited ;  and  I  readily 
declare  that  if  I  alone  were  to  be  affected  by  it,  I  would  not 
hesitate  one  moment  to  allow  all  he  asks,  and  more,  for  if  I  had 
not  lost  my  fortune  I  should  have  made  his,  or  at  least  have  put 
him  in  a  position  to  make  one  for  himself.  It  is  not  personal 
service  alone  that  merits  compensation,  but  his  zeal,  which  hath 
led  him  into  embarrassments,  and  his  fidelity  entitles  him  to  the 
highest  consideration." 

Of  his  wife,  Mrs.  Mary  Morris,  he  says :  "  The  sum  at  the 
credit  of  this  account,  $15,860.16,  arose  from  the  sale  of  two 
or  three  tracts  of  land  or  farms  in  Maryland  left  her  by  her 
father,  the  late  Colonel  Thomas  White,  which  I  sold  with  great 
reluctance  when  necessity  pressed,  and  she  urged  me  to  it.  I 
consider  this  a  sacred  debt,  but  have  made  no  provision  for  it; 
therefore  it  depends  on  my  creditors  whether  any  is  made  or  not." 
Of  a  debit  against  his  son,  Wm.  W.  Morris  deceased,  he  says: 
"  This  account  must  be  balanced  by  profit  and  loss.  It  is  for  his 
expenses  in  Europe;  I  gave  him  nothing  else,  and  he  did  not 
live  to  earn  anything  for  himself."  The  sacrifices  Mr.  Morris 
made  to  maintain  his  own  sinking  credit  and  that  of  others  may 
be  imagined  from  one  effort  in  that  direction.  Sterrett  &  Harri- 
son's account  against  him  showed  him  to  be  indebted  to  them 
in  the  sum  of  $400,136.92.  He  admitted  $302,919.30  of  this 
to  be  correct,  but  adds :  "  I  must  observe  that  nearly  $200,000 
of  this  debt  has  arisen  from  sacrifices  made  to  save  their  credit 
when  I  could  not  pay  the  balance  due.  And  finally  I  gave  a 
security  on  175,000  acres  of  land  in  Genesee  on  which  it  was 
expected  they  would  timeously  have  raised  money  in  Holland, 
but  the  attempt  to  do  so  proved  a  failure,  to  my  great  affliction, 
as  well  as  theirs."  That  identical  tract  is  worth  to-day  more 
than  six  millions  of  dollars.  The  following  are  a  few  of  the 
creditors  mentioned  by  Mr.  Morris  in  his  statement :  "  Thomas 
Willing,  William  Temple  Franklin  (son  of  Benj.  Franklin), 
Cadwalader  Evans,  Governeur  Morris,  Alex.  Baring,  Humphrey 
Marshall  of  Kentucky,  Wade  Hampton,  General  Walter  Stewart, 
the  French  Republic,  Louis  Le  Couteulx,  Ephriam  Blaine,  and 
Benj.  Harrison  of  Virginia,  his  attorney  and  agent  in  that  State. 

The  reader  will  have  observed  that  although  Mr.  Morris 
sold  3,600,000  acres  of  land  to  the  Hollanders  he  only  states  the 


price  of  the  first  tract  of  1,500,000  acres.  For  this  he  received 
£112,500  sterling  money.  The  deeds  recorded  in  the  clerk's 
office  at  Canandaigua  and  in  the  office  of  the  Secretary  of  State 
at  Albany  enable  us,  however,  to  arrive  at  the  total  amount  re- 
ceived by  him  from  the  Holland  Company.  For  the  1,000,000- 
acre  tract  he  received  650,000  florins  Holland  money.  For  the 
800,000-acre  tract  he  received  600,000  florins  same  currency. 
For  the  200,000  acre  tract  he  received  175,000  florins ;  for  the 
54,000  acres  he  received  £7,500  sterling,  and  for  the  46,000  acres 
he  received  60,000  Dutch  guilders.  Turning  his  purchase  and 
sales  into  our  currency,  at  the  rate  of  five  dollars  to  the  pound 
sterling  and  forty  cents  each  for  the  florin  and  guilder,  we 
arrive  at  the  following  result :  Cost  of  lands  bought  from  Massa- 
chusetts, $500,000.  Paid  to  extinguish  native  title,  $100,000. 
Interest,  commissions,  and  other  outlays,  say  $100,000  additional, 
making  a  total  cost  to  Mr.  Morirs  of  $700,000  for  4,180,000 
acres  of  land,  or  about  17  cents  per  acre.  He  sold  to  the  Hol- 
landers 3,600,000  acres  for  £120,000  sterling,  and  1,485,000 
florins  and  guilders,  which  are  of  equal  value,  and  both  amounts 
being  reduced  to  our  currency  give  a  total  of  $1,194,000  — 
equal  to  about  33  cents  per  acre.  Add  to  this  the  profit  on  the 
sale  to  the  London  Associates,  which  was  £45,000  sterling  gross, 
and  could  hardly  have  been  less  than  $150,000  net,  and  it  will  be 
seen  that  Mr.  Morris's  profits  on  his  transactions  in  the  Genesee 
Country  when  stated  at  half  a  million  were  not  overestimated. 
And  besides  the  money  profit  he  had  remaining  700,000  acres  of 
land,  which  will  be  known  hereafter  as  the  Morris  Reserve. 

So  far  as  I  have  been  able  to  obtain  them,  the  following  are 
the  names  of  the  gentlemen  who  composed  the  Holland  Land 
Company :  Wilhelm  and  Jan  Willink,  Nicholas  Van  Staphorst, 
Pieter  and  Jan  Van  Eeghen,  Rutger  Jan  Schimmelpenninck, 
Gerrit  Schimmelpenninck,  son  of  Rutger  Jan,  Hendrick  and 
Cornelius  Vollenhoven,  Jan  Gabriel  Van  Staphorst,  Roelif  Van 
Staphorst  the  younger,  Wilhelm  and  Jan  Willink,  Jr.,  Hendrick 
Seye,  Egbert  Jean  Koch,  Walrave  Van  Heukelom,  Cornelius 
Isaac  Vandervliet,  Nicholas  Van  Beeftingh,  and  Rutger  Jan's 
son,  although  I  suspect  this  gentleman  to  be  Mr.  Gerrit  Schim- 
melpenninck, son  of  Rutger  Jan.  Amongst  these  names  only 
Mr.  Rutger  Jan  Schimmelpenninck  has  a  place  in  Dutch  history. 
He  was  a  statesman  of  distinction  who  in  1805  held  the  high 
position  of  Grand  Pensionary  of  Holland.     With  genuine  Dutch 


pride,  patriotism,  and  courage  he  refused  to  continue  in  office 
under  the  upstart  king,  Louis  Bonaparte,  who  had  been  placed 
on  the  throne  of  Holland  by  his  brother  Napoleon.  Louis  mar- 
ried Hortense  Beauharnais,  the  mother  of  Napoleon  III. 

These  Hollanders  were  grantees  and  grantors  in  a  great  num- 
ber of  real  estate  transactions  in  Western  New  York,  and  as  their 
names  are  not  easy,  they  will  hereafter  be  known  as  the  Holland 
Company.  Their  purchase  was  made  in  1792  with  the  under- 
standing that  it  was  not  to  be  paid  for  until  the  native  Indian 
title  to  the  lands  was  extinguished.  As  this  was  not  effected  until 
late  in  1797,  the  nineteenth  century  had  dawned  before  survey 
into  townships  and  ranges  was  completed  and  the  land  ready 
to  be  offered  to  settlers  in  lots  to  suit.  It  was  provided  in  the 
original  contract  that  a  deduction  should  be  made  for  lakes, 
bays,  and  other  bodies  of  water,  within  the  boundaries,  which 
should  exceed  a  certain  area,  but  all  fishings,  shootings,  and 
water-power  privileges  were  conveyed  to  the  purchasers.  It  was 
these  bodies  of  water,  together  with  the  fact  that  the  Indian 
Reservations  contained  more  land  than  was  at  first  estimated, 
that  made  Mr.  Ellicott's  survey  fall  short  nearly  120,000  acres 
from  the  amount  as  originally  outlined  by  the  meridian  meas- 
urement. And  there  is  little  doubt  that  the  years  that  elapsed 
between  the  date  of  his  purchase  and  payment  to  Massachusetts, 
and  the  date  of  payment  by  the  Holland  Company,  added  much 
to  the  pecuniary  burdens  of  Mr.  Morris. 

After  the  passage  by  the  Legislature  of  New  York  of  an 
act  permitting  aliens  to  hold  real  estate,  the  lands  purchased 
from  Mr.  Morris  were  conveyed  to  the  Dutch  proprietors  by 
the  American  trustees  who  originally  took  title,  and  a  new  sub- 
division was  made.  This  subdivision  consisted  of  three  separate 
branches  of  interests,  and  the  tract  was  conveyed  by  three  deeds 
to  the  different  individuals  composing  each  branch.  The  dif- 
ferent interests,  however,  were  so  closely  blended  that  one 
general  agent  was  appointed  for  the  whole.  The  sub-agents 
also  acted  for  the  three  branches,  making  sales  for  either  as 
opportunity  offered,  and  using  the  names  of  the  different  pro- 
prietors of  each  tract,  in  making  conveyances  to  buyers.  These 
tracts  were  known  as  the  two  million-acre  tract,  the  million-acre 
tract,  and  the  Willink  tract.  In  allotting  these  tracts  it  was 
agreed  by  and  between  the  Dutch  proprietors  that  Messrs.  Wil- 
helm  and  Jan  Willink  and  their  sons  Wilhelm  and  Jan  Willink, 


the  younger,  should  have  the  privilege  of  locating  their  allotment 
(something  over  three  hundred  thousand  acres)  on  any  part  of 
the  purchase  they  might  chose.  They  accordingly  selected  a 
plat  nearly  square  in  the  southeast  corner  of  the  tract,  because  it 
was  nearest  Philadelphia,  where  the  general  agent  resided.  This 
selection  exemplifies  a  strange  lack  of  foresight  and  knowledge 
on  the  part  of  the  Hollanders  regarding  the  relative  advantages 
of  different  portions  of  their  purchase. 

The  number  and  extent  of  the  Indian  Reservations  are  as 
follows,  viz. ; 

Square  Miles. 

Cannawagas   Reservation 2 

Little  Beard  and  Big  Tree  Reservation 4 

Squakie  Hill  Reservation 2 

Gardeau  —  The  White  Woman's  Reservation 28 

Canadea  Reservation    16 

Oil  Spring  Reservation 1 

Allegany  Reservation 42 

Cattaraugus    Reservation    42 

Buffalo  Creek  Reservation    130 

Tonawanda  Reservation 70 

Tuscarora  Reservation 1 

The  oil  spring  was  reserved  on  account  of  the  presumed  medici- 
nal qualities  of  the  petroleum  which  floated  on  its  surface.  It 
was  called  Seneca  oil,  and  had  long  been  known  and  collected  by 
the  natives  of  that  tribe. 

The  first  general  agent  of  the  Holland  Company  was  The- 
ophilus  Cazenove,  resident  at  Philadelphia.  His  ancestors  and 
brethren  were  merchants  in  Amsterdam  and  London,  the  firm  in 
the  latter  city  being  J.  H.  Cazenove  and  Nephew.  In  connection 
with  other  Hollanders  resident  here  and  abroad  he  owned  large 
landed  interests  in  Western  Pennsylvania  and  Central  New 
York.  His  fellow  countrymen  and  neighbors  in  this  State  were 
John  Lincklaen  and  Gerrit  Boon,  who,  having  become  citizens, 
took  and  held  in  connection  with  Le  Roy,  Bayard,  McEvers,  and 
others,  title  to  the  lands  of  the  Holland  Purchase  until  laws  were 
enacted  permitting  foreigners  to  hold  real  estate,  when  they  re- 
conveyed  them  to  the  de  facto  owners.  The  handsome  town  of 
Cazenovia  was  named  for  the  early  agent. 


As  soon  as  the  extinguishment  of  the  Indian  right  enabled 
Mr.  Morris  to  give  title,  Mr.  Cazenove  engaged  Mr.  Joseph 
Ellicott  as  chief  surveyor  of  the  lands  for  which  he  had  become 
agent.  The  Ellicott  brothers  were  natives  of  Ellicott's  Mills 
in  Maryland.  The  original  Mr.  Ellicott  emigrated  from  Cul- 
lupton  in  Wales,  and  was  said  to  be  "  a  man  of  high  character 
in  every  respect."  His  grandsons,  Andrew,  Joseph,  Benjamin, 
and  David  possessed  mechanical  and  mathematical  genius  of  a 
high  order.  Andrew  was  employed  by  Mr.  Jefferson  to  survey 
the  Spanish  boundary  line,  and  was  afterward  Surveyor  General 
of  the  United  States  and  Professor  of  Mathematics  at  West 
Point.  Joseph  was  taught  mathematics  and  surveying  by  his 
elder  brother,  and  was  an  apt  scholar.  He  assisted  Andrew  in 
surveying  the  site  of  the  city  of  Washington,  and  in  1791  was 
employed  by  Colonel  Pickering,  Secretary  of  War,  to  run  the 
boundary  line  between  the  State  of  Georgia  and  the  Creek 
Indians.  After  completing  this  survey  he  was  employed  by  Mr. 
Cazenove.  Some  of  the  men  who  composed  his  original  survey- 
ing party  in  Western  New  York  became  distinguished  in  after 
life.  Amongst  those  who  were  not  at  the  time  foremost,  Trum- 
bull Cary  was  an  axe  and  line  man,  and  James  Brisbane,  not  yet 
one-and-twenty,  was  commissary. 

Before  leaving  Philadelphia  for  the  scene  of  his  labors,  Mr. 
Ellicott,  who  knew  that  the  variations  of  the  magnetic  needle 
made  it  difficult  if  not  impossible  to  run  a  true  meridian  by  the 
surveyor's  compass,  caused  to  be  constructed  by  the  firm  of 
Rittenhouse  &  Potts,  mathematical  and  astronomical  instrument 
makers  in  Philadelphia,  an  instrument  similar  to  those  made  use 
of  to  observe  the  transits  of  the  heavenly  bodies,  which  had  no 
magnetic  needle  attached,  "  the  prominent  advantages  of  which 
were,  that  by  means  of  its  telescopic  tube,  and  accurate  manner 
of  reversing,  a  straight  line  could  be  accurately  run."  His 
brother  Benjamin  originated  the  idea  of  this  instrument  and  as- 
sisted in  its  manufacture.  In  order  to  make  proper  use  of  it, 
it  was  necessary  to  clear  a  space  about  four  rods  wide,  so  as  to 
give  an  uninterrupted  view  of  the  heavens  —  no  small  task  in  a 
heavily  timbered  country ;  but  the  survey  when  completed  was 
a  work  well  done  for  all  time.  Lawyers  assert  that  there  is  much 
less  difficulty  in  establishing  lines  and  titles  on  the  Holland  than 
on  the  Phelps  &  Gorham  purchase,  because  of  the  greater  accur- 
acy of  Mr.  Ellicott's  survey. 


Mr.  Thomas  Morris,  acting  as  agent  for  Mr.  EUicott,  fur- 
nished supplies  to  the  surveying  party,  the  requisition  consisting 
of  tents,  bedding;  towels,  pork,  beef,  and  flour;  tea,  coffee, 
and  chocolate;  medicines,  wines,  spirits,  and  loaf  sugar;  pack 
horses  to  move  the  tents  and  supplies  from  camp  to  camp,  and 
hundreds  of  other  things  too  numerous  to  mention.  Game  and 
fish  were  all  around  them,  and  we  may  well  envy  the  good  diges- 
tion which  must  have  waited  on  appetite  when  this  band  of  hardy 
woodsmen,  sharp  set  by  open  air  and  exercise,  assembled  round 
the  camp  fires  for  supper. 

After  the  meridian  lines  were  run,  the  plan  of  Mr.  Cazenove 
was  to  subdivide  the  tract  into  townships  about  six  miles  square, 
these  again  to  be  divided  into  sections  about  one  and  a  half  miles 
square,  and  each  section  subdivided  into  lots  containing  about 
one  hundred  and  twenty  acres  ;  the  supposition  being  that  a 
wealthy  settler  would  buy  a  section  (about  1,500  acres)  and 
divide  it  amongst  his  progeny ;  but  when  it  was  found  that  set- 
tlers wanted  farms  of  all  sizes,  and  of  shapes  to  conform  to  the 
streams  and  topography  of  the  country,  rather  than  to  fixed 
lines,  the  plan  of  Mr.  Cazenove  was  abandoned,  and  thereafter  the 
townships  were  simply  divided  into  lots  of  about  sixty  chains  or 
three-fourths  of  a  mile  square,  which  could  be  subdivided  to  meet 
the  requirements  of  purchasers.  The  clashing  of  boundary  lines 
between  the  Morris  Reserve  and  Holland  Purchase,  here- 
tofore mentioned  by  Mr.  Morris,  was  settled  upon  the  principle 
that  the  oldest  conveyance  was  entitled  to  its  full  complement. 
Some  of  the  proprietors  not  being  satisfied  with  this  arrangement 
brought  suits  for  the  purpose  of  getting  a  legal  interpretation 
of  their  rights,  but  failed  to  overthrow  the  apparently  just  rule 
that  the  oldest  title  holds  the  property. 

It  is  very  easy  at  this  distance  of  time  and  in  this  age  of  steam 
and  electricity  to  write  about  the  settlement  of  a  new  country, 
but  a  lively  imagination  is  hardly  equal  to  drawing  a  picture  of 
the  difficulties  encountered  by  Mr.  Ellicott's  surveying  party, 
backed  though  it  was  by  the  solid  wealth  of  a  dozen  citizens  of 
the  Batavian  Republic.  Every  article  of  supply  was  rowed, 
pushed,  hauled,  or  poled  in  boats  up  the  Mohawk  River  to  Oneida 
Lake,  through  the  lake  into  the  Oswego  River  and  through 
that  river  into  Lake  Ontario.  From  thence  by  sail  to  the  mouth 
of  the  Genesee  River  was  the  only  part  of  the  journey  in  which 
hand  labor  was  not  the  main  motive  power.     Arrived  at  the  falls 


of  the  Genesee  River,  both  boats  and  cargo  had  to  be  carried 
round  and  relaunched,  and  then  again  man  power  was  supplied 
to  move  vessel  and  freight  to  Williamsburg,*  where  a  store- 
house, from  which  supplies  were  distributed,  had  been  erected. 
It  cost  more  than  half  a  cent  to  transport  a  ton  of  freight  a  mile 
in  those  days.  It  would  be  well,  perhaps,  for  the  western  gran- 
ger to  bear  these  things  in  mind  when  trying  to  destroy  the  prop- 
erty which  created  his,  and  makes  his  home  possible. 

Let  us  suppose  that  some  necessary  article  has  been  omitted  in 
the  catalogue  —  left  behind  or  lost  by  the  way.  Mr.  Ellicott 
could  not  step  to  the  telephone  or  touch  a  wire  and  order  a  dupli- 
cate from  Buffalo  or  Rochester,  for  these  cities  had  no  more  exist- 
ence than  the  telegraph  and  telephone.  When  he  first  saw  Buf- 
falo, in  1798,  it  consisted  of  a  double  log  house  occupied  by  Mid- 
daugh  &  Lane,  a  house,  half  log  and  half  framed,  occupied  by 
Captain  Johnson,  a  two-story  hewed  log  house  kept  as  a  tavern 
by  James  Palmer,  and  three  small  log  houses  occupied  by  Messrs. 
Ransom,  Winne,  and  Robbins.  Rochester  consisted  of  the  mill 
erected  by  Indian  Allan,  a  mill  much  of  the  time  without  a  miller, 
and  more  of  the  time  without  grist.  This  was  the  beginning  of 
a  town  destined  within  half  a  century  to  become  noted  as  the 
"  Flour  City." 

Nor  was  it  easy  after  all  the  materials  were  on  the  ground 
to  run  a  meridian  line  from  the  northern  boundary  of  Pennsyl- 
vania to  the  shores  of  Lake  Ontario.  It  would  not  be  easy  to-day, 
though  most  of  the  distance  now  to  be  traversed  would  be  over 
a  cleared  and  cultivated  country.  There  are  still,  in  the  counties 
of  Allegany  and  Cattaraugus,  streams  which  run  through  pre- 
cipitous walls,  and  hills  almost  impossible  to  scale.  Mr.  Elli- 
cott's  line  to  be  of  any  value  had  to  be  straight,  obliging  him  to 
overcome  such  obstacles  as  these,  and  to  measure  such  bodies  of 
unfordable  water  as  lay  in  his  path.  I  shall  venture  the  asser- 
tion that  the  men  of  this  generation  are  unequal  to  such  tasks  as 
were  performed  by  their  forefathers.  Without  the  aid  of  labor- 
saving  machinery  there  are  not  men  enough  engaged  in  agri- 
cultural employments  in  the  Genesee  Country  to-day  to  plow, 
sow,  plant,  and  secure  the  products  now  grown.  With  such 
materials  as  the  pioneer  had  to  employ,  his  descendants  would 
stand  appalled  by  the  task  he  confronted  and  performed.  How 
many  farmers  are  there  in  Western  New  York  at  present  who 

*  Near  Geneseo. 


know  how  to  chop,  log,  and  split  rails,  or  how  to  sow  grain  broad- 
cast? How  many  farmers'  wives  know  how  to  card,  spin,  and 
weave?  Not  one  in  a  hundred  under  thirty-five  years  of  age. 
And  I  shall  further  venture  to  assert  that  if  the  prairies  had 
been  as  accessible  two  hundred  years  ago  as  they  are  now  a 
great  part  of  New  England  would  never  have  had  an  agricul- 
tural population.  Her  quarries  of  marble,  granite,  and  slate 
would  have  been  opened,  such  of  her  forests  as  afforded  market- 
able lumber  would  have  been  felled,  her  streams  would  have  been 
utilized  to  turn  the  wheels  of  manufacturing  industries,, but  she 
would  never  have  attempted  to  raise  corn  and  wheat  against 
Iowa  and  Minnesota.  No  further  proof  of  this  is  needed  than 
the  fact  that  farming  lands  are  constantly  being  abandoned 
in  that  section.  And  fertile  as  the  land  is  in  the  Genesee 
Country,  these  remarks  would  apply  to  some  extent  there.  The 
cost  of  clearing  an  acre  of  our  land  in  1790,  and  fitting  it  for 
tillage,  would  have  paid  for  twenty  acres  of  prairie  ready  for  the 

When  Mr.  Ellicott  had  completed  his  survey  of  the  Company's 
lands  into  townships  and  lots  he  was  appointed  local  agent  for 
their  sale.  Previous  to  this  Mr.  Cazenove  had  retired  from  the 
general  agency  and  returned  to  Europe,  fixing  his  residence  in 
London,  and  afterward  in  Paris,  where  he  died.  He  was  suc- 
ceeded by  Mr.  Paul  Busti,  a  native  of  Milan,  in  Italy,  who  as 
a  young  man  had  entered  the  counting-house  of  his  uncle  in 
Amsterdam,  where  he  afterward  established  himself  in  business 
—  attaining  a  marked  degree  of  success  and  a  high  reputation 
for  integrity  and  ability.  After  retiring  from  commercial  life 
he  became  interested  with  some  of  the  gentlemen  connected  with 
the  Holland  Purchase  and  was  induced  to  accept  the  general 
agency  of  the  Company  at  Philadelphia,  the  duties  of  which  he 
continued  to  perform  most  faithfully  and  satisfactorily  up  to 
the  time  of  his  decease  in  1824;  his  term  of  service  embracing 
almost  the  whole  active  period  of  pioneer  settlement.  While  he 
guarded  with  strict  integrity  and  rigid  economy  the  interests 
of  the  Company,  he  wisely  seconded  the  local  agencies  in  any 
measures  calculated  to  advance  settlement.  These  agencies  acted 
under  general  and  liberal  instructions  as  to  the  opening  of  high- 
wa}rs  and  erection  of  mills  and  public  buildings,  and  when,  as 
was  often  the  case,  they  advised  additional  or  extraordinary 
measures  of  improvement  they  were  generously  met  by  their  chief. 


Mr.  Ellicott  fixed  upon  the  site  of  Batavia  as  an  eligible 
place  for  opening  the  pioneer  land  office  of  the  Company.  He 
proposed  to  call  it  Bustiville,  but  the  clever  Italian  saw  the 
base  uses  to  which  waggery  might  pervert  the  name  and 
promptly  vetoed  Mr.  Ellicott's  proposition.  Batavia,  the  name 
of  the  Dutch  Republic  and  of  the  capital  of  the  Empire  of  the 
Netherlands  in  the  East  Indies,  was  the  name  selected.  In  re- 
gard to  this  site  and  to  opening  means  of  communication,  Mr. 
Busti  writes  to  Mr.  Ellicott,  under  date  Philadelphia,  15th 
August,  1800 : 

"  The  opening  of  the  communication  through  the  country  is 
a  matter  deemed  of  such  importance  that  it  will  not  escape  your 
attention  that  the  application  of  money  for  that  purpose  has 
been  appropriated  on  a  much  larger  scale  than  you  thought 
necessary.  By  extending  the  amount  of  expenditures  on  that 
head  I  mean  to  evince  to  you  how  much  I  am  persuaded  of  the 
usefulness  of  having  practicable  roads  cut  out;  the  benefits  of 
them  being  not  alone  confined  to  the  lands  on  which  the  pres- 
ent settlement  is  to  be  undertaken,  but  to  those  of  the  two  million- 
acre  tract  afterward  to  be  sold.  You  will  have  to  take  care  that 
the  roads  to  be  laid  out  at  present  are  cut  in  such  a  direction  as  to 
become  of  general  advantage  to  the  whole  country.  The 
knowledge  you  possess  of  it  will  teach  you  where  your  attention 
ought  to  be  most  particularly  directed.  As  I  am  speaking  of 
roads,  it  will  not  be  amiss  to  add  a  recommendation  to  you  that 
in  making  choice  of  the  spot  on  which  your  office  and  residence 
is  to  be  fixed,  you  will  select  a  situation  of  an  easy  and  con- 
venient approach,  so  as  to  induce  the  emigrants  to  visit  you." 

On  Nov.  26,  1800,  Mr.  Ellicott  was  in  Albany  on  his  way 
to  the  new  settlement,  from  which  place  he  writes  Mr.  Busti  that 
he  has  issued  handbills  offering  a  portion  of  the  Company's 
lands  for  sale.  These  were  widely  circulated  in  England  and 
Holland  as  well  as  in  the  older  settled  portions  of  this  country. 
A  part  of  this  handbill  is  here  given : 



"  The  Holland  Land  Company  will  open  a  Land  Office  in  the 
ensuing  month  of  September,  for  the  sale  of  a  portion  of  their 
valuable  lands  in  the  Genesee  Country,  State  of  New  York,  situ- 


ate  in  the  last  purchase  made  of  the  Seneca  Nation  of  Indians, 
on  the  western  side  of  Genesee  River.  For  the  convenience  of 
applicants,  the  Land  Office  will  be  established  near  the  center 
of  the  lands  intended  for  sale  and  on  the  main  road  leading:  from 
the  Eastern  and  Middle  States  to  Upper  Canada,  Presque  Isle 
in  Pennsylvania,  and  the  Connecticut  Reserve.  Those  lands  are 
situate,  adjoining,  and  contiguous  to  the  lakes  Erie,  Ontario, 
and  the  straights  of  Niagara,  possessing  the  advantage  of  the 
navigation  and  trade  of  all  the  Upper  Lakes,  as  well  as  the 
river  Saint  Lawrence  (from  which  the  British  settlement  derive 
great  advantage),  also  intersected  by  the  Allegany  River,  navig- 
able for  boats  of  thirty  or  forty  tons  burthen,  to  Pittsburgh  and 
New  Orleans,  and  contiguous  to  the  navigable  waters  of  the  west 
branch  of  the  Susquehannah  River,  and  almost  surrounded  by 
settlements,  where  provision  of  every  kind  is  to  be  had  in  great 
abundance  and  on  reasonable  terms,  renders  the  situation  of  the 
Holland  Land  Company  Geneseo  Lands  more  eligible,  desirous, 
and  advantageous  for  settlers  than  any  other  unsettled  tract  of 
inland  country  of  equal  magnitude  in  the  United  States.  The 
greater  part  of  this  tract  is  finely  watered  (few  exceptions) 
with  never-failing  springs  and  streams,  affording  sufficiency  of 
water  for  grist-mills  and  other  waterworks.  The  subscriber, 
during  the  years  1798  and  1799,  surveyed  and  laid  off  the  whole 
of  these  lands  into  townships,  a  portion  of  which,  to  accommodate 
purchasers  and  settlers,  he  is  now  laying  off  into  lots  and  tracts 
from  120  acres  and  upwards  to  the  quantity  contained  in  a  town- 

"  The  lands  abound  with  limestone,  and  are  calculated  to  suit 
every  description  of  purchasers  and  settlers.  Those  who  prefer 
land  timbered  with  black  and  white  oak,  hickory,  poplar,  chest- 
nut, wild  cherry,  butternut,  and  dogwood,  or  the  more  luxuriant 
timbered  with  basswood  or  lynn,  butternut,  sugar-tree,  white 
ash,  wild  cherry,  cucumber  tree  (a  species  of  the  magnolia),  and 
black  walnut,  may  be  suited.  Those  who  prefer  level  land,  or 
gradually  ascending,  affording  extensive  plains  and  valleys, 
will  find  the  country  adapted  to  their  choice.  In  short,  such  are 
the  varieties  of  situations  in  this  part  of  the  Geneseo  Country, 
everywhere  almost  covered  with  a  rich  soil,  that  it  is  presumed 
that  all  purchasers  who  may  be  inclined  to  participate  in  the  ad- 
vantages of  those  lands,  may  select  lots  from  120  acres  to  tracts 
containing  100,000  acres,  that  would  fully  please  and  satisfy 



their  choice.  The  Holland  Land  Company,  whose  liberality  is 
so  well  known  in  this  country,  now  offer  to  all  those  who  may 
wish  to  become  partakers  of  the  growing  value  of  those  lands 
such  portions  and  such  parts  as  they  may  think  proper  to  pur- 
chase. Those  who  may  choose  to  pay  cash  will  find  a  liberal 
discount  from  the  credit  price." 

Mr.  Ellicott's  appointment  as  local  agent  was  dated  Oct.  1, 
1800.  Mr.  Asa  Ransom  having  built  a  house*  on  the  purchase 
at  Pine  Grove  a  portion  of  it  was  appropriated  as  a  pioneer  land 
office.  Mr.  James  W.  Stevens,  who  had  come  on  from  Phila- 
delphia, acted  as  clerk,  Mr.  Brisbane  occasionally  assisting, 
though  his  duties  were  still  confined  in  the  main  to  the  Transit 
Store  House.  The  residence  and  land  office  at  Batavia  was  not 
finished  and  occupied  until  the  autumn  of  1801.  Sales  of  land 
at  first  were  slow.  Under  date  16th  January,  1801,  Mr.  Ellicott 
writes  to  Mr.  Busti :  "  The  season  of  the  year  being  such  as  to 
prevent  persons  from  making  their  establishments,  prevents  me  at 
present  from  making  any  bona  fide  sales."  In  a  letter  to  Messrs. 
Le  Roy  &  Bayard  dated  May  7,  1801,  he  says:  "  In  respect  to 
sales  of  land  we  have  not  as  yet  made  rapid  progress.  The  best 
and  most  eligible  locations  only  are  in  demand.  However,  we  dis- 
pose of  more  or  less  every  day.  Settlements  form  more  rapidly  on 
the  east  side  of  the  purchase  than  on  the  west,  owing  to  its  con- 
tiguity to  the  old  settlement  in  the  Genesee,  where  provisions  and 
necessaries  for  their  beginning  are  more  easily  obtainable." 

In  a  letter  dated  July  14th,  of  the  same  year,  to  Mr.  Busti, 
Mr.  Ellicott  criticises  the  rule  laid  down  by  the  Amsterdam  peo- 
ple requiring  an  advance  payment  in  cash  from  all  settlers 
or  other  purchasers,  and  attributes  the  paucity  of  sales  to  this 
amongst  other  causes.     He  says : 

"  When  we  reflect  that  there  are  lands  for  sale  in  every  pos- 
sible direction  around  us,  that  every  purchaser  who  comes  into 
this  quarter  has  to  pass  by  almost  innumerable  land  offices 
where  lands  are  offered  on  almost  every  kind  of  terms  imaginable, 
and  that  in  Upper  Canada  adjoining  this  purchase,  the  govern- 
ment grants  lands  at  sixpence,  Halifax  currency,  per  acre,  we 
cannot  calculate  to  make  very  rapid  sales  until  we  have  saw-  and 

*  According  to  a  tax  roll  dated  October  6,  1800,  and  signed  by  Augustus 
Porter  and  Amos  Hall,  of  Ontario  County,  there  were  then  upon  the  Holland 
Purchase  but  twelve  taxable  inhabitants,  three  of  whom  —  Johnson,  Mid- 
daugh,  and  Lane  — resided  in  Buffalo.  The  Holland  Company  was  assessed 


grist-mills  erected  and  roads  opened ;  all  of  which  are  going  for- 

"  If  some  mode  could  be  devised  to  grant  lands  to  actual  set- 
tlers who  cannot  pay  in  advance,  and  at  the  same  time  not  destroy 
that  part  of  the  plan  which  requires  some  advance,  I  am  con- 
vinced that  the  most  salutary  consequences  would  result,  which 
I  beg  leave  to  suggest  for  Mr.  Busti's  consideration,  as  three- 
fourths  of  the  applicants  are  of  that  description,  and  as  every 
acre  of  land  that  is  cleared,  fenced,  and  sowed  on  the  purchase, 
at  the  labor  and  expense  of  others,  makes  the  contiguous  district 
more  valuable,  it  appears  to  me  some  mode  might  be  devised 
to  grant  lands  to  such  actual  settlers,  without  restricting  them 
to  pay  in  advance.  Married  men  are  loth  to  settle  before  con- 
veniences can  be  had,  and  deprive  themselves  of  the  benefits  of 
society,  which  accounts  for  the  reason  why  our  sales  have  not 
been  more  extensive  to  that  class  of  purchasers." 

This  is  good  reasoning,  and  the  advice  given  had  been  adopted 
by  the  London  Associates  in  disposing  of  lands  on  the  Phelps  & 
Gorham  purchase.  But  the  Dutchman  is  a  phlegmatic,  opinion- 
ated, slow-going  person,  and  a  dozen  of  them  are  only  more  so. 
The  wealth}7  merchants  who  had  bought  these  lands  with  their 
surplus  capital  could  not  understand  how  any  person  with  proper 
thrift  and  economy  could  have  failed  to  lay  by  a  little  money. 
Dutch  farmers  were  all  rich,  why  should  not  American  farmers 
also  have  money?  Land  in  America  might  be  had  for  one- 
fortieth  part  of  its  cost  in  Holland,  which  seemed  to  them  a 
very  good  reason  why  our  people  ought  to  be  able  to  buy  freely, 
and  pay  spot  cash.  Of  the  poverty  of  a  great  number  of  the 
inhabitants  of  the  new  world  —  especially  of  those  engaged  in 
tilling  the  soil  —  a  poverty  not  at  all  discreditable  —  they 
seemed  to  have  no  notion.  Nor  did  they  at  first  appreciate  the 
fact  that  a  settler  able  to  pay  for,  clear,  sow,  and  reap,  was  at 
times  absolutely  unable  to  sell  the  products  of  his  land  —  that 
their  tract  was  farther  from  a  market  than  from  one  end  of 
the  Kingdom  of  the  Netherlands  to  the  other,  and  that  over 
such  roads  as  existed  a  team  could  hardly  haul  a  load  at  all. 

In  another  letter,  dated  from  Pine  Grove  as  late  as  December 
4,  1801,  Mr.  Ellicott  writes:  "  I  have  made  no  actual  sales  this 
fall  where  the  stipulated  advance  has  been  paid.  I  begin  to  be 
strongly  of  the  opinion  you  always  expressed  to  me  (but  which 
I  must  confess  I  rather  doubted)  that  few  purchasers  will  come 


forward  and  pay  cash  for  lands  in  a  new  country."  It  would 
seem  from  this  that  Mr.  Busti  was  an  earlier  convert  to  the  credit 
system  than  the  local  agent. 

The  spot  where  Buffalo  is  built  attracted  attention  as  early 
as  1801.  In  the  autumn  of  that  year  Dr.  Cyrenus  Chap  in,  of 
Oneida  County,  on  his  return  from  a  visit  to  the  purchase 
wrote  as  follows  to  Mr.  Ellicott :  "  And  further  I  would  peti- 
tion you  for  a  township  of  land  there  at  the  Buffalo  —  the  one 
that  will  take  in  the  town,  for  since  my  return  a  number  of 
my  friends  have  solicited  me  to  petition  you  for  a  township ; 
and  for  that  purpose  forty  respectable  citizens  that  are  men 
of  good  property  have  signed  articles  of  agreement  to  take  a 
township  if  it  can  be  purchased;  and  we  will  pay  the  ten  per 
cent,  when  we  receive  the  article." 

If  this  proposition  had  been  accepted,  Dr.  Chapin  and  his 
friends  would  have  secured  the  site  of  a  city  comprising  to-day 
nearly  half  a  million  of  inhabitants;  but  Mr.  Busti,  to  whom 
it  was  submitted,  did  not  favor  the  application.  The  following 
letter  from  the  early  tavern  keeper  at  Buffalo  explains  itself. 
It  is  dated  August  11,  1801 : 

"  Sir :  —  The  inhabitants  of  this  place  would  take  it  as  a  par- 
ticular favor  if  you  would  grant  them  the  liberty  of  raising  a 
school  house  on  a  lot  in  any  part  of  the  town,  as  the  New  York 
Missionary  Society  have  been  so  good  as  to  furnish  them  with  a 
schoolmaster  clear  of  any  expense  excepting  boarding  and  finding 
him  a  school  house ;  if  you  will  be  so  good  as  to  grant  them  that 
favor  they  will  take  it  as  a  particular  mark  of  esteem.  By  re- 
quest of  the  inhabitants.     I  am  yours,  &c, 

"  Jos.  Ellicott,  Esq'r.  J.  R.  Palmer. 

"  N.  B. —  Your  answer  to  this  would  be  very  acceptable,  as 
they  have  the  timber  ready  to  hew  out." 

The  Buffalo  of  to-day  will  hardly  be  thought  a  proper  field 
for  missionary  effort.  So  far  as  schools  and  churches  were 
concerned,  the  Holland  Company  from  the  start  laid  down  the 
rule  to  deed  in  fee  half  an  acre  to  every  school  district  on  their 
purchase,  and  to  give  a  plot  of  land  to  every  organized  religious 
society  wishing  to  erect  a  house  of  worship.  It  seems  hard  in 
these  days  to  account  for  the  tardiness  of  settlement.  Although 
Mr.  Ellicott  in  the  early  months  of  1801  had  fixed  upon  Batavia 
as  the  site  of  the  Company's  office  there  were  only  three  sales  of 


land  in  the  village  in  that  year.  Total  sales  up  to  1810  were 
as  follows:  In  1801,  40;  in  1802,  56;  in  1803,  230;  in  1804, 
300;  in  1805,  415;  in  1806,  524;  in  1807,  607;  in  1808,  612; 
in  1809,  1,160.  The  war  of  1812  had  for  a  time  a  depressing 
effect  upon  sales,  but  after  peace  was  declared  settlement  upon 
the  purchase  became  active.  Mr.  Ellicott's  agency  ceased  in 
October,  1821.  His  administration  of  the  affairs  of  the  Com- 
pany had  been  active,  enterprising,  vigorous,  and  successful. 
He  had  neither  done  or  left  undone  anything  that  could  be  con- 
strued as  malversation,  or  neglect  of  duty.  His  resignation  was 
his  own  act,  and  was  prompted  by  the  failure  of  his  mental 
and  physical  powers,  which  had  been  for  some  time  foreshad- 
owed. It  is  true,  that  discontent  had  begun  to  prevail  amongst 
the  settlers.  Indebtedness  on  land  contracts  had  reached  such 
a  magnitude  as  to  press  heavily  on  them.  Acting  only  as  agent 
for  others,  Mr.  Ellicott  had  a  right  to  insist  upon  the  perform- 
ance of  contracts,  but  there  is  ample  evidence  that  he  recom- 
mended a  lenient  and  liberal  policy  toward  embarrassed  resi- 
dents and  tempered  justice  with  mercy  and  humanity.  But  a 
great  number  of  settlers  had  become  imbued  with  the  idea  that  a 
change  in  the  local  agency  might  bring  relief,  or  a  favorable 
modification  of  the  terms  and  conditions  of  indebtedness.  Con- 
scious of  this  state  of  feeling,  as  well  as  impelled  by  failing 
health,  Mr.  Ellicott  resigned  the  agency.  The  benefits  antici- 
pated from  the  change  were  not  realized.  Such  modifications  of 
the  terms  of  contracts  as  were  made  under  the  incumbency  of  Mr. 
Evans  in  1827  were  the  work  of  the  general  agent. 

The  terms  of  Mr.  Ellicott's  engagement  with  the  Holland 
Company  were  as  follows :  For  the  first  ten  years  he  was  to 
receive  five  per  cent,  cash  upon  all  sales  effected,  six  thousand 
acres  of  farming  lands,  and  five  hundred  acres  in  the  village 
of  Batavia.  At  the  close  of  the  ten  years  the  general  agent  pro- 
posed, instead  of  a  cash  commission  of  five  per  cent.,  to  assign 
to  him  one-twentieth  of  all  the  contracts  he  had  made.  This  was 
accepted  by  Mr.  Ellicott  and  the  amount  was  deeded  to  him  in 
fee  by  the  Company.  The  six  thousand  acres  stipulated  in  the 
contract  he  located  along  the  ridge  near  Lockport,  Niagara 
County.  He  afterwards  added  by  purchase  a  strip  of  twelve 
hundred  acres  on  the  south  side  of  this  plat.  In  the  original 
survey  of  Buffalo  he  had  laid  out  for  himself  a  lot  of  one  hundred 
acres,  which  he  purchased  from  the  Company.     It  was  called 


an  out  lot,  but  occupies  a  conspicuous  position  in  the  now  widely 
extended  city.  He  bought  seven  hundred  acres  on  Oak  Orchard 
Creek  embracing  a  fine  water  power,  and  the  site  of  the  present 
village  of  Shelby,  and  afterward  fourteen  hundred  acres  below 
this,  which  include  the  village  of  Medina.  And  jointly  with 
his  brother  Benjamin  and  others  he  was  interested  in  other  tracts 
on  the  Holland  Purchase  and  Morris  Reserve.  At  the  time  of 
his  death,  in  1826,  his  property  was  estimated  at  six  hundred 
thousand  dollars,  which  was  undoubtedly  the  largest  estate  ac- 
cumulated by  any  individual,  up  to  that  period,  west  of  the  pre- 
emption line.     It  would  now  be  estimated  by  millions. 

Mr.  Ellicott  was  succeeded  in  the  local  agency  by  Mr.  Jacob 
S.  Otto,  who  had  previously  been  a  resident  of  Philadelphia  en- 
gaged in  commercial  pursuits.  He  was  an  amiable,  courteous, 
methodical  business  man,  but  his  previous  surroundings  and 
acquired  habits  and  tastes  were  not  calculated  to  adapt  him  to 
the  place  he  was  called  to  fill.  While  he  spared  no  effort  to 
promote  the  interests  and  prosperity  of  the  Company,  he  was 
never  very  popular  with  the  backwoodsmen  with  whom  he  had 
to  deal.  He  died  in  May,  1827,  from  the  effects  of  a  cold,  con- 
tracted the  previous  autumn,  at  the  great  canal  celebration  at 
Lockport,  which  he  attended  as  a  delegate.  The  general  agent 
of  the  Company,  Mr.  Busti,  died  during  the  administration  of 
its  local  affairs  by  Mr.  Otto.  He  was  succeeded  by  John  J. 
Vander  Kemp.  The  new  general  agent  was  born  in  the  city  of 
Leyden  in  Holland.  He  came  to  the  United  States  with  his 
parents  in  1788.  The  family  at  first  settled  on  the  Hudson  near 
Kingston,  but  soon  after  located  at  Oldenbarnevelt,  in  the  town 
of  Trenton,  Oneida  County,  where  they  enjoyed  the  society  of 
their  compatriots,  Colonel  A.  G.  Mappa,  Gerrit  Boon,  Rutger  B. 
Miller,  and  John  Lincklaen.  Early  in  life  Mr.  Vander  Kemp 
became  clerk  in  the  land  office  in  charge  of  Colonel  Mappa,  suc- 
ceeding H.  J.  Huidekoper,  who  was  advanced  to  the  position  of 
chief  clerk  of  the  general  agency  in  Philadelphia.  In  1804, 
Mr.  Huidekoper  was  appointed  agent  for  the  sale  of  the  Holland 
Company's  lands  in  Pennsylvania,  creating  a  vacancy  in  the 
chief  clerkship  in  Philadelphia,  which  Mr.  Vander  Kemp  was 
called  to  fill.  He  succeeded  Mr.  Busti  as  general  agent.  His 
whole  business  life  was  spent  in  the  service  of  the  Company. 
He  continued  as  general  agent  up  to  the  time  of  the 
final    disposal    of    its    interests    in     1838,    when    he    retired 


on  a  well-earned  competency,  continuing  his  residence  in  Phila- 

Mr.  Otto  was  succeeded  at  Batavia  by  Mr.  David  E.  Evans, 
a  nephew  of  Mr.  Ellicott.  He  began  life  as  clerk  for  his  uncle, 
and  for  many  years  was  cashier  and  accountant  to  the  agency. 
He  had  been  appointed  as  associate  with  Mr.  Otto,  in  order  that 
that  gentleman  might  have  the  benefit  of  his  long  experience 
in  the  service  of  the  Company,  and  of  his  familiarity  with  all  the 
details  of  its  business.  He,  however,  was  able  to  give  only  a 
portion  of  his  time  to  the  affairs  of  the  agency,  his  duties  as  a 
member  of  the  State  Senate  calling  him  to  Albany  during  the 
winter.  He  had  served  but  one  term  as  State  Senator  when  he 
was  elected  to  Congress.  He  resigned  his  position  as  Repre- 
sentative in  the  National  Legislature  to  take  upon  himself  the 
duties  of  the  local  agency.  The  alluring  possibilities  of  wealth 
to  be  fairly  and  honestly  attained  in  the  Company's  service  — 
possibilities  so  splendidly  realized  by  his  uncle  —  were  more 
attractive  to  him  than  the  barren  Congressional  honors,  ac- 
companied by  a  then,  and  a  still,  niggardly  pay. 

During  Mr.  Otto's  administration  a  plan  of  receiving  cattle 
and  grain  from  settlers  at  a  price  to  be  agreed  upon  —  the 
value  thereof  to  be  endorsed  on  contracts  —  was  put  into  opera- 
tion. Depots  were  established  on  different  parts  of  the  purchase 
where  wheat  and  cattle  could  be  delivered  —  between  certain  fixed 
dates  —  once  a  year,  and  agents  were  appointed  to  receive  them 
on  behalf  of  the  Company.  The  times  and  places  were  adver- 
tised yearly  in  advance,  and  a  fair  market  price  was  paid.  As 
a  measure  of  relief  to  the  settlers  it  was  found  beneficial,  but 
was  expensive  to  the  Company,  which  was  a  heavy  loser  by  these 
operations.  In  the  second  year  of  Mr.  Evans's  administration 
a  general  plan  for  the  modification  of  land  contracts  was  adopted. 
It  was  somewhat  complicated,  but  to  some  extent  was  a  relief 
from  burdens  that  were  pressing  heavily  upon  a  large  class 
of  debtors.  Mr.  Evans's  agency  continued  until  1837.  As 
early  as  1835,  plans  for  closing  the  entire  business  and  interests 
of  the  Company  had  been  formulated,  and  had  practically  been 
concluded  before  the  end  of  his  term.  He  was  succeeded  by 
John  J.  Von  Hall,  whose  duties  were  confined  to  closing  up  the 
details  of  the  Company's  business. 

As  early  as  1810  it  was  found  necessary  to  establish  other 
local  agencies.     The  Company's  affairs  extended  over  an  area 


so  wide  as  to  make  it  practicably  impossible  to  transact  all  its 
business  at  Batavia.  Offices  were  accordingly  opened  at  the 
following  places:  Buffalo,  Ira  A.  Blossom,  agent;  Mayville, 
Chautauqua  County,  Win.  W.  Peacock,  agent.  Mr.  Peacock 
was  an  early  surveyor  on  the  tract,  assisting  Mr.  Ellicott,  and 
for  a  time  was  clerk  in  the  office  at  Batavia;  he  surveyed  most 
of  the  townships  in  Chautauqua  into  farm  lots.  Westfield, 
Chautauqua  County,  William  H.  Seward,  agent.  His  history 
is  contemporaneous.  The  world  knows  it  by  heart.  If  it  does 
not,  then  it  "  knows  nothing  of  its  greatest  men."  His  con- 
nection with  the  Company  will  hereafter  be  alluded  to  more  at 
length.  Ellicottville,  Cattaraugus  County,  David  Goodwin, 
agent,  succeeded  later  by  Stahley  N.  Clark.  Mr.  Goodwin  was 
also  an  early  surveyor,  and  clerk  in  the  land  office.  When  the 
branch  office  was  opened  at  Ellicottville  he  was  placed  in  charge 
and  remained  until  succeeded  by  Mr.  Clark.  These  sub-agen- 
cies were  established  at  different  periods ;  the  first  being  at  May- 
ville in  1810.  It  was  the  policy  of  the  Company  to  place  them 
in  charge  of  men  familiar  with  the  topography  of  the  country, 
hence  the  majority  of  the  pioneer  agents  had  assisted  to  survey 
and  plat  the  lands  they  offered  for  sale,  and  were  able  to  describe 
the  general  features  of  their  tracts  as  regards  soil,  water,  stone, 
and  timber.  Afterward  a  genuine  civil  service  reform  seems  to 
have  been  established  by  the  Holland  Company  as  well  as  by 
the  Pulteney  and  Hornby  estates.  Promotion  in  order  of  merit 
and  service  was  a  rule  with  few  exceptions  in  the  management  of 
their  affairs.  In  addition  to  those  heretofore  mentioned  the  fol- 
lowing gentlemen  acted  as  clerks  in  the  principal  office  at  Batavia 
nearly  in  the  order  in  which  their  names  are  given : 

John  Brandon,  Andrew  A.  Ellicott,  William  Wood,  David 
Goodwin,  Walter  M.  Seymour,  Pieter  Huidekoper,  Abram  Van 
Tuyl,  Stahley  N.  Clark,  Lewis  D.  Stevens,  Janus  Milnor, 
William  Green,  John  Lowber,  Robert  W.  Lowber,  Oliver  G. 
Adams,  Moses  Beecher. 

We  will  draw  for  a  time  our  attention  from  surveyors,  agents, 
and  clerks,  and  turn  it  toward  the  more  important  factors  in 
the  settlement  of  the  Company's  domain  —  factors  without 
which  surveyors,  agents,  and  clerks  would  have  been  of  little 
account  —  the  settlers  themselves.  Like  the  pioneers  on  the 
Phelps  and  Gorham  Purchase,  a  majority  of  them  came  from 
the  older  settled  portions  of  New  York  State  and  from  New  Eng- 


land.  A  glance  at  the  names  of  those  who  took  contracts  up  to 
1820  establishes  this.  There  is  an  occasional  Dutchman,  Irish- 
man, or  Scotchman,  but  more  than  two-thirds  are  undoubted 
Yankees.  The  Van  Beeftinghs,  Vollenhovens,  Van  Eeghens, 
Van  Staphorsts,  Willinks,  and  Schimmelpennincks  seem  not  to 
any  great  extent  to  have  been  able  to  persuade  their  neighbor 
burgomasters  to  essay  the  wilderness  of  Western  New  York. 
The  Dutchman  is  not  of  a  migratory  disposition.  He  will  help 
to  colonize  Dutch  settlements,  but  is  never  quite  easy  under  any 
flag  but  his  own.  William  of  Orange,  though  King  of  England, 
eagerly  looked  forward  to  his  escape  from  London  and  Windsor, 
and  counted  the  days  that  must  elapse  ere  he  could  set  out  for 
his  favorite  seat  at  Loo.  If  a  session  of  Parliament  seemed 
likely  to  delay  his  departure  he  did  not  hesitate  to  make  known 
his  desire  for  an  adjournment,  and  if  necessary  to  use  his  pre- 
rogative to  effect  it.  After  the  colony  of  New  Amsterdam  was 
transferred  to  the  English  and  became  the  colony  of  New  York, 
emigration  to  it  from  Holland  practically  ceased.  New  Jersey, 
Pennsylvania,  and  Maryland  contributed  in  a  moderate  way  to 
swell  the  quota  of  settlers  west  of  the  Genesee,  but  the  Hollander 
smoked  his  pipe  with  characteristic  meditation  upon  the  lands 
he  had  reclaimed  from  the  sea,  and  did  very  little  toward  sub- 
duing and  making  productive  those  of  the  Holland  Purchase. 

We  will  let  the  descendant  of  a  pioneer  tell  the  story  of  his 
ancestor's  first  year  in  the  wilderness : 

"  It  is  winter.  He  has  the  fall  preceding  obtained  his 
*  Article  '  or  had  his  land  '  Booked  '  to  him,  and  built  a  new  log 
house.  Cold  weather  came  upon  him  before  its  completion  and 
froze  the  ground  so  that  he  could  not  mix  the  straw  mortar  for 
his  stick  chimney,  and  that  is  dispensed  with.  He  has  taken 
possession  of  his  new  home.  The  oxen  are  browsing  with  the 
cow  and  three  sheep,  and  his  young  wife  is  feeding  two  pigs  and 
three  fowls  from  her  folded  apron.  These,  together  with  a 
bed,  two  chairs,  a  pot  and  kettle,  and  a  few  other  indispensable 
articles  for  housekeeping  —  few  and  scanty  altogether,  as  may 
be  supposed  —  for  all  were  brought  in  on  an  ox  sled,  over  an 
underbrushed  woods  road :  these  constitute  the  bulk  of  his  world- 
ly wealth.  The  opening  in  the  woods  is  that  only  which  has 
been  made  to  get  logs  for  his  house,  and  browse  for  his  cattle, 
for  the  few  days  he  has  been  the  occupant  of  his  new  home. 
He  has  a  rousing  fire ;  great  logs  blazing  against  his  rude  chim- 


ney  back.  His  firewood  is  so  convenient  and  plenty  that  there 
is  no  thought  of  economizing  that.  There  is  a  little  hay  piled 
on  a  rude  hovel  that  gives  shelter  to  his  stock,  but  it  is  a  luxury 
only  to  be  dealt  out  occasionally.  The  roof  of  his  house  is  of 
peeled  elm  bark,  and  his  scanty  window  is  of  oiled  paper.  Glass 
is  a  luxury  that  has  not  yet  reached  the  '  settlements.'  The 
floor  of  his  house  is  made  of  the  halves  of  split  logs ;  the  door  of 
hewed  plank  —  no  boards  to  be  had ;  a  saw  mill  has  been  talked 
of  in  the  neighborhood,  but  has  not  yet  been  put  in  operation. 
Miles  and  miles  away  through  a  dense  forest  is  his  nearest  neigh- 
bor. That  forest  is  to  be  felled,  logged,  underbrushed,  burned, 
fenced,  and  plowed ;  and  the  land  is  not  only  to  be  cleared,  it  is  to 
be  paid  for.  The  task  is  a  formidable  one,  but  that  rugged  spot 
will  yet '  blossom  like  the  rose.'  He  and  the  helpful  sharer  of  his 
toils  and  privations  are  destined  to  be  the  founders  of  a  settlement 
and  of  a  family ;  to  look  out  upon  broad,  smiling  fields  where  once 
was  the  dense  forest,  and  congratulate  themselves  that  they  have 
been  helpers  in  a  work  of  progress  and  improvement  such  as  has 
few  parallels  in  an  age  and  in  a  country  distinguished  for  enter- 
prise and  accomplishment."* 

It  is  doubtful  whether  the  lot  of  the  pioneer  averaged  as  well 
as  the  writer  has  outlined  it.  He  gives  us  only  the  bright  side  of 
the  picture.  Good  health  is  taken  for  granted.  Yet  it  is  well 
known  that  the  frontiersman  was  most  fortunate  if  he  escaped 
the  malarial  and  other  fevers  incident  to  all  new  settlements. 
The  loss  of  an  ox  meant  the  cessation  of  all  labor  which  could 
not  be  performed  by  hand,  and  in  some  seasons  the  loss  of  a  cow 
might  mean  starvation.  The  cold  year  —  1816  —  and  the  year 
following  were  periods  of  great  suffering.  Many  of  the  poorer 
settlers  subsisted  on  milk,  roots,  boiled  greens,  and  leeks.  Game 
and  fish  supplemented  the  meager  fare  of  those  who  had  rod  and 
gun,  but  a  majority  was  too  poor  to  own  such  luxuries  as  fishing 
tackle  and  fowling  pieces.  Even  the  red  man  was  reduced  to  the 
verge  of  starvation,  and  ravenously  devoured  such  portions  of 
the  game  he  killed  as  are  not  usually  thought  proper  for  human 
food.  During  this  period  of  scarcity  (1816-17)  wheat  sold  at 
three  dollars  per  bushel  and  corn  at  two  dollars.  If  the  pioneer 
had  possessed  the  means  to  buy,  there  was  not  a  sufficiency  for 
all  wants.  Judge  James  McCall  who  owned  a  grist  mill  on  the 
purchase  controlled  all  the  surplus  grain  for  miles  around.     His 

*  Turner's  history  of  the  Holland  Purchase. 


monopoly  was  humanely  exercised.  He  would  sell  to  no  one  man 
over  forty  pounds  of  flour  or  meal,  and  to  those  who  had  teams, 
and  the  means  of  procuring  food  by  going  out  to  the  older  set- 
tlements, he  refused  to  sell  at  all.  When  his  supplies  became  re- 
duced he  declined  to  sell  more  than  twenty  pounds  to  an  indi- 
vidual, and  in  this  way  helped  to  carry  along  the  poorest  and 
most  destitute  of  his  neighbors  until  the  harvest  of  1817.  There 
was  at  all  times  an  abundant  crop  of  those  Christian  graces  which 
adorn  humanity,  and  of  that  charity  and  mercy  "  which  blesseth 
him  that  gives,  and  him  that  takes."  The  year  1813  was  also 
one  of  great  distress  in  Niagara  and  Erie  counties  and  in  that 
part  of  Genesee  lying  west  of  Batavia.  A  circular  letter  dated 
at  Canandaigua,  Jan.  8,  181-1,  addressed  to  Hons.  Philip  Van 
Rensselaer,  James  Kent,  Ambrose  Spencer,  Stephen  Van 
Rensselaer,  Elisha  Jenkins,  and  to  the  Reverend  Timothy 
Clowes,  William  Neill,  and  John  M.  Bradford,  and 
signed  by  Messrs.  Wm.  Shcpard,  Thaddeus  Chapin,  Moses  At- 
water,  Nathaniel  Gorham,  Myron  Holley,  Thomas  Beals,  and 
Phineas  P.  Bates,  sets  forth  that  "  all  the  settlements  in  a  section 
of  country  forty  miles  square  have  been  broken  up  by  the  British 
invasion.  Our  roads  are  filled  with  people,  many  of  whom  have 
been  reduced  from  competency  and  good  prospects  to  the  last 
degree  of  want  and  sorrow.  So  sudden  was  the  blow  by  which 
they  have  been  crushed  that  no  provision  could  be  made  either  to 
meet  or  elude  it."  After  fully  describing  the  exigencies  of  the 
situation  a  stirring  appeal  is  made  to  their  wealthy  and  liberal- 
minded  fellow  citizens  for  aid.  It  was  promptly  met  by  an 
appropriation  of  fifty  thousand  dollars  by  the  State  Legislature, 
three  thousand  by  the  Common  Council  of  New  York,  one 
thousand  by  that  of  Albany,  two  thousand  by  the  Holland  Com- 
pany, and  liberal  personal  contributions  by  the  citizens  of  New 
York,  Albany,  Canandaigua,  and  other  localities.  It  is  a  fact 
worthy  of  mention  that  at  this  period  Canandaigua  was  a  more 
important  town,  and  contained  more  wealth,  public  spirit,  and 
liberality,  than  any  other  west  of  Albany,  with  the  possible  ex- 
ception of  Utica.  The  little  village  of  Buffalo  was  then  a  heap 
of  smoking  ruins,  and  Rochester  was  still  inchoate. 

Following  the  cold  season  there  were  two  years  of  financial 
crisis  affecting  the  whole  country.  It  was  almost  an  impossi- 
bility to  raise  money  for  any  purpose  or  upon  any  security. 
Men  with  thousands  of  acres  of  land  and  granaries  full  of  wheat 


were  unable  to  pay  their  taxes.  Settlement  was  brought  nearly 
to  a  standstill.  Travel  and  transportation  were  reduced  to  a 
minimum.  Many  settlers  abandoned  the  idea  of  trying  to  pay 
for  their  lands,  and  many  others  abandoned  the  lands  and  the 
country.  Farms  that  had  been  cleared  and  improved  at  an  out- 
lay of  a  thousand  dollars  would  not  bring  two  hundred  above 
their  original  cost. 

Most  of  our  timber  lands  have  been  cleared  and  are  under 
cultivation.     Our  forests  are  fast  disappearing.      What  remains 
of  them  consist  principally  of  pine  in  the  extreme  northern  and 
southern  portions  of  the  country,  which  is  cut  for  its  lumber 
value  and  not  with  the  object  of  clearing  the  land  for  agricul- 
tural purposes.     Associated  labor,  modern  implements,  and  steam 
sawmills,  which  can  be  readily  moved  from  place  to  place,  make 
the  task  of  the  lumberman  a  comparatively  easy  one.     Supply 
the  hardiest  and  most  skillful  of  them  to-day  with  an  axe,  a  log 
chain,  and  a  yoke  of  oxen,  and  ask  him,  alone  and  unaided,  to 
clear  a  farm  of  a  hundred  acres  densely  covered  with  oak,  hick- 
ory, maple,  beech,  elm,  and  other  hard  and  heavy  timber,  and  he 
would  simply  say  that  the  thing  was  impossible.     Yet  such  a 
task  confronted  nearly  all  the  pioneer  settlers  on  the  Holland 
Purchase.     The  men  who  accomplished  that  task  inherited  ability 
to  perform  it.     They  came  of  a  race  of  hardy  woodsmen  which, 
having  cleared  New  England  of  timber,   found  only  the  un- 
generous reward  of  a  rocky  and  sterile  soil,  from  which  sub- 
sistence  could   barely   be   gained   by    patient,    unflinching  toil. 
Inured  from  childhood  to  the  work  of  wresting  from  stubborn, 
unfruitful  nature  its  scanty  reward,  they  cheerfully  attacked 
the  forests  of  the  Genesee  Country,  firmly  persuaded  that  its 
arable,  fertile  soil  would,  in  time,  abundantly  recompense  their 
labors.     The  men  of  no  other  country  were,  at  that  period,  equal 
to  the  undertaking.   Old  England  had  long  been  under  the  plow. 
Holland  had  been  rescued  from  the  sea.    It  was  a  wonderful 
achievement ;  but  when  the  Dutchman  had  said,  "  Hitherto  shalt 
thou  come,  but  no  further,"  his  eye  looked  out  upon  meadow  lands, 
and  he  had  no  use  for  such  accomplishments  as  chopping,  log- 
ging,  and   rail    splitting.     The    Scotch   were   the   only   people 
accustomed  to  struggle  with  such  difficulties  as  were  encountered 
by  settlers  upon  the  timber  lands  of  North  America,  and  they 
were  almost  the  only  people  from  abroad  who,  at  the  beginning 
of  the  century  undertook  the  task  of  subduing  and  bringing 


under  cultivation  such  lands.     And  they  did  not  attempt  it  to 
any  extent. 

Settlers  are  prone  to  giving  home  names  to  their  new  abodes, 
but  out  of  one  hundred  and  thirty  towns  on  the  Holland  Pur- 
chase only  one  bears  a  Scottish  title  —  the  town  of  Cambria 
in  Niagara  County.  American  blood  and  bone  cleared  the  lands 
east  of  the  prairies.  For  two  hundred  years  the  settlers  in  the 
Northern  States  had  been  woodsmen,  accustomed  from  birth  to 
the  perils  and  privations  of  frontier  existence.  They  had  become 
attached  to  the  free  life  of  the  woods,  and  were  constantly  push- 
ing on  to  new  settlements.  The  pioneer  on  the  Phelps  and  Gor- 
ham  Purchase  sold  out  his  improvements  and  moved  to  the  Hol- 
land Purchase.  When  civilization  began  to  press  upon  him,  he 
"  pulled  up  stakes  "  and  started  for  the  Western  Reserve.  When 
the  howl  of  the  wolf  and  the  scream  of  the  wildcat  no  longer 
saluted  his  ear  in  Northern  Ohio,  he  sought  the  familiar  sounds 
in  the  heavy  timber  of  the  Wabash,  and  of  Southern  Michigan. 
There  were  living  in  the  middle  of  the  century  hundreds  of  men 
who  had  helped  to  "  clear  up  "  half  a  dozen  farms  between  New 
England  and  the  Mississippi,  and  who  in  the  vigor  of  three  score 
and  ten  sighed  because  there  were  no  more  worlds  to  conquer. 
No  foreigners  did  this.  If  there  is  one  who  upon  landing  put 
his  family  and  all  his  wordly  goods  on  an  ox  .sled,  and,  following 
Indian  trails  and  blazed  trees,  penetrated  hundreds  of  miles  into 
the  wilderness,  settling  at  length  upon  a  tract  of  heavy  timber, 
and  with  no  tools  but  an  axe  clove  his  way  to  a  home  and  inde- 
pendence, he  is  a  rare  exception.  Emigrants  came  to  us,  but  not 
in  great  numbers  until  our  country  had  ceased  to  be  an  experi- 
ment —  not  until  turnpike  roads  and  the  Erie  Canal  had  made 
our  new  lands  fairly  accessible.  Our  public  works  have  largely 
been  created  by  foreign  labor,  but  it  was  gregarious.  The  Irish- 
man and  Italian  will  work  in  companies,  but  not  one  in  a  hundred 
of  them  would  to-day  take  a  tract  of  heavy  timber  land  in  Wyom- 
ing or  Washington  as  a  gift,  and  locate  on  it  if  it  was  scores 
of  miles  from  a  town  or  neighbor.  Yet  Wyoming  and  Washing- 
ton are  more  accessible  at  present  than  the  Genesee  Country  was 
at  the  beginning  of  the  century,  and  it  takes  but  half  a  dozen 
years  out  there  to  turn  a  stump  field  into  a  thriving  city.  The 
pioneer's  reward  was  neither  certain  nor  adequate.  Wolves 
destroyed  his  sheep  and  carried  off  his  young  calves  and  pigs. 
Foxes  and  weasels  deciminated  his  poultry  yard.     Wild  pigeons 


by  millions  filled  their  crops  with  his  grain.  Raccoons  plucked  his 
half-ripened  ears  of  corn,  and  squirrels  obtained  their  winter 
supplies  from  his  garners.  Other  animals  besides  the  ass  knew 
the  master's  crib.  If  Mr.  Henry  George  had  ever  cleared  up 
one  heavily-timbered  farm,  the  question  with  him  of  property 
in  land  would  never  for  a  moment  have  been  in  doubt.  I  will 
quote  from  an  article  on  the  early  settlement  of  Northern  Indi- 
ana (recently  contributed  to  a  monthly  publication  by  Hon. 
Hugh  McCulloh)  a  few  well-chosen  words  having  a  direct  bearing 
on  pioneer  life.  He  says :  "  I  question  very  much  whether  there 
are  any  farms  outside  of  the  prairies  and  away  from  large  towns 
which  —  if  they  were  charged  with  the  labor  bestowed  upon  them 
at  the  rate  of  one  dollar  per  day  for  men,  and  fifty  cents  a  day 
for  women,  and  with  other  necessary  outlays  (their  original  cost 
not  included),  and  credited  with  the  market  value  of  their  produc- 
tions, and  their  present  estimated  value  —  would  exhibit  a  bal- 
ance on  the  right  side  of  the  account." 

"  No  one  who  has  known  anything  about  the  hardships  endured 
by  the  first  settlers  in  the  timber  lands  of  the  United  States,  their 
unceasing  toil,  their  actual  want  —  not  of  the  comforts  but  of 
the  necessaries  of  life  when  in  health,  to  say  nothing  of  what 
they  needed  and  could  not  be  supplied  with  in  sickness  —  during 
the  long  and  wearisome  years  that  came  and  went  before  they 
had  cleared  enough  of  their  lands  to  enable  them  to  begin  to 
enjoy  the  fruits  of  their  privations  and  labors;  —  no  one  who 
has  known  anything  about  all  this  will  be  found  among  those 
who  speak  of  land  as  being  God's  gift,  and  therefore  property 
in  which  there  should  not  be  absolute  ownership." 

Such  was  the  lot  of  the  pioneer  on  the  Holland  Purchase 
during  the  first  quarter  of  the  nineteenth  century.  In  perils 
of  wild  beasts  and  savage  men,  in  perils  in  the  wilderness,  in 
watching  always,  in  weariness  and  painfulness,  in  hunger  and 
thirst,  in  sickness,  without  remedies,  physician,  or  nurse;  in 
fastings  often,  in  cold  and  heat,  he  clove  his  way  —  if  spared  — 
to  the  plain  comfort  and  frugal  competency  of  a  farmer's  life. 
Educated  in  such  a  school,  he  became  a  strong  and  rugged, 
though  often  an  unpolished  character  —  a  man  who  knew  his 
duties,  and  having  performed  them  was  prepared  to  assert  and 
maintain  his  rights.  We  are  told  that  such  men  constitute  a 

After  the  first  quarter  of  the  century  the  condition  of  pioneers 


on  the  central  and  northern  portions  of  the  purchase  was  greatly 
improved.  Roads  that  were  passable  intersected  the  settlements, 
and  the  Erie  Canal  opened  a  way  to  market  for  surplus  products. 
But  while  this  grand  waterway  doubled  the  value  of  property 
within  twenty  miles  on  either  hand,  it  was  at  first  a  positive 
damage  to  settlers  along  the  southern  tier.  Overland  travel  to 
the  new  lands  farther  west,  which  began  as  early  as  1805  and 
continued  in  an  ever-increasing  flow,  went  mainly  through  the 
southern  counties.  Prairie  schooners  bound  for  the  Western 
Reserve  and  remoter  regions  were  a  daily  sight  along  the  high- 
ways of  Chemung,  Steuben,  Allegany,  Cattaraugus,  and  Chau- 
tauqua, some  wending  their  way  to  the  navigable  waters  of  the 
Allegheny,  and  others  pushing  on  by  land  to  their  destination. 
This  current  of  travel  and  transportation  which  had  furnished 
a  brisk  trade  to  the  towns  through  which  it  passed,  was  suddenly 
turned  to  the  canal  and  the  lakes.  The  advantage  derived  from 
location  on  a  great  thoroughfare  was  lost,  and  another  quarter 
of  a  century  of  isolation  from  markets,  and  from  the  activities 
of  traffic,  had  to  be  endured  by  the  settlers  on  the  southern  parts 
of  the  Holland  Company's  purchase. 

Mr.  Wadsworth  was  right  when  he  said  "  few  people  have  the 
patience  necessary  to  make  speculation  in  new  lands  successful." 
Even  the  Hollanders  had  not.  Famed  as  they  are  for  making 
haste  slowly,  the  pace  in  Western  New  York  was  too  moderate 
even  for  Dutch  phlegm.  As  has  already  been  stated  in  the 
sketch  of  the  Phelps  and  Gorham  Purchase,  they  endeavored  as 
early  as  1821  to  close  out  their  business  west  of  the  Genesee 
River,  and  for  the  sake  of  touching  again  their  florins  and 
guilders  they  offered  to  convey  all  their  remaining  interests  and 
all  their  receipts  to  date  upon  being  reimbursed  their  original 
investment  and  expenses,  with  interest  at  the  rate  of  four  per 
cent,  per  annum.     This  offer  was  not  accepted. 

The  earliest  of  a  series  of  sales  which  resulted  in  1838,  in 
closing  out  the  interests  of  the  Holland  Company,  was  made  in 
1828.  The  purchasers  were  James  O.  Morse,  Levi  Beardsley,  and 
Alvin  Stewart,  of  Otsego  County.  The  tract  sold  contained 
5,397  acres  —  consideration  one  dollar  per  acre  —  location  Chau- 
tauqua County.  It  was  known  as  the  Cherry  Valley  Purchase  or 
Cherry  Valley  Land  Company.  The  next  sale  was  in  1835.  The 
purchasers  were  Goold  Hoyt,  Russell  H.  Kevins,  Rufus  L.  Lord, 
and  William  Kent,  of  New  York,  and  Nicholas  Devereux   of 


Utica.  Eighteen  thousand,  nine  hundred  and  seventy-one  acres 
were  conveyed,  the  consideration  being  one  dollar  per  acre.  This 
tract  was  in  Allegany  County.  The  Company's  remaining  lands 
in  Cattaraugus  County  were  sold  and  conveyed  to  the  same  parties 
for  the  same  consideration  —  one  dollar  per  acre.  Previous  to 
this,  sale  had  been  made  of  a  considerable  tract  in  Cattaraugus 
to  Rutger  B.  Miller,  of  Oneida  County;  David  E.  Evans  and 
John  Lowber,  of  Batavia;  and  The  Farmers'  Loan  and  Trust 
Company,  of  New  York. 

Many  sales  and  resales  were  made  by  the  original  purchasers, 
and  there  were  numerous  changes  in  the  proprietary.  Wm. 
Samuel  Johnson,  of  New  York,  bought  the  interests  of  William 
Kent,  locating  at  Ellicottsville,  where  he  continued  to  reside  for 
many  years.  Rufus  L.  Lord  sold  a  part  of  his  tract  to  his 
brother  Thomas,  and  they  made  a  final  sale  of  their  holdings  to 
Coleman  &  Smith,  their  agents  at  Ellicottsville.  The  Lords  had 
previously  bought  a  portion  of  Mr.  Nevins'  interest.  Joseph 
Kernochan  bought  from  Nevins  and  Hoyt,  and  Thomas  Suffern 
bought  from  Goold  Hoyt  and  others.  Rufus  King,  Jacob 
Ten  Eyck,  and  Jacob  H.  Ten  Eyck,  of  Albany,  also  had  a  pro- 
prietary interest  by  purchase.  Elish  Jenkins  became  the  owner 
of  1,008  acres  where  the  city  of  Dunkirk  now  stands.  It  was 
conveyed  by  him  to  Walter  Smith,  and  from  Smith  to  Russell  H. 
Nevins  and  Nicholas  Devereux. 

Mr.  Devereux  gave  personal  attention  to  his  purchase,  organ- 
izing the  Devereux  Land  Company,  for  which  Major  Richard 
Church,  of  Belvidere,  acted  as  agent. 

On  the  first  day  of  October,  1836,  the  Holland  Company  con- 
tracted to  sell  their  remaining  lands,  land  contracts,  and  bonds 
and  mortgages  in  the  county  of  Chautauqua  to  Abraham  M. 
Schermerhorn,  of  Rochester;  Trumbull  Cary  and  George  W. 
Lay,  of  Batavia ;  Jared  L.  Rathbone,  of  Albany ;  William  H. 
Seward,  of  Auburn ;  and  John  Duer  and  Morris  Robinson,  of 
New  York.  Each  party  had  one-sixth  interest,  except  Messrs. 
Duer  and  Robinson,  who  owned  a  sixth  in  common.  On  the 
fourteenth  day  of  July,  1838,  the  property  was  conveyed  by  two 
deeds  of  the  Holland  Company  to  Messrs.  Duer,  Robinson,  and 
Seward,  who  held  it  in  trust  for  their  associates.  A  part  of 
the  lands,  however,  were  divided  and  allotted  in  severalty  to  those 
who  wished  to  assume  the  personal  management  of  their  respect- 
ive shares.     The  consideration  agreed  to  be  paid  the  Holland 


Company  was  $919,175.59.  That  portion  of  the  estate  belong- 
ing to  Messrs.  Duer,  Robinson,  and  Seward  was  held  by  them  in 
common  and  managed  for  their  joint  benefit  until  May  2,  1859, 
when  they  closed  out  their  remaining  interests  to  George  W. 
Patterson,  of  Chautauqua. 

The  last  and  most  important  sale  was  consummated  in  October, 
1838.  By  a  preliminary  agreement  executed  December  31, 
1835,  the  Holland  Company  agreed  to  sell  to  Heman  J.  Redfield, 
of  Batavia,  and  Jacob  Le  Roy  and  the  Farmers'  Loan  and  Trust 
Company,  of  New  York,  all  their  unsold  lands,  and  all  their  land 
contracts  and  bonds  and  mortgages  in  the  counties  of  Genesee, 
Orleans,  Niagara,  and  Erie.  The  lands  in  Wyoming  were  in- 
cluded in  these  various  sales,  that  county  not  having  been  set 
off  until  1841.  A  preliminary  deed  to  the  Trust  Company  and 
Messrs.  Redfield  and  Le  Roy  was  executed  January  27,  1838, 
and  a  final  deed  specifying  the  location,  metes,  bounds,  and 
acreage  of  lands  was  recorded  on  the  tenth  of  the  following  Oc- 
tober. The  consideration  money  was  $1,462,993.27.  Mr. 
Redfield  bought  the  interest  of  his  partner,  Mr.  Le  Roy,  in  1843, 
and  made  a  final  disposition  of  all  the  real  and  personalty,  and 
a  settlement  with  the  Trust  Company  in  1848.  His  son-in-law, 
Major  Glowacki,  of  Batavia,  is  authority  for  the  statement  that, 
in  order  to  bring  matters  to  a  conclusion,  Mr.  Redfield  sold  land 
on  the  outskirts  of  the  city  of  Buffalo  for  four  dollars  and  a  half 
an  acre,  which  would  now  bring  as  many  thousands  as  it  then 
brought  units. 

The  title  of  Messrs.  Pulteney,  Hornby,  and  Colquhoun,  and 
of  the  Holland  Company,  to  the  lands  bought  of  Mr.  Morris 
has  not  been  permitted  to  pass  unquestioned.  Squatters  have 
plausibly  and  ingeniously  assailed  it  in  the  Legislature  and 
through  the  courts,  but  decisions  have  been  so  uniformly  against 
them  that  for  nearly  forty  years  no  fresh  attempts  in  that  direc- 
tion have  been  made.  Besides  the  treaty  and  deed  of  cession 
from  New  York  to  Massachusetts,  the  sale  by  the  latter  State  to 
Phelps  and  Gorham  and  Robert  Morris,  and  the  deeds  from 
these  gentlemen  to  the  foreign  purchasers,  their  title  has  been  con- 
firmed by  legislative  acts  of  both  States.  In  April,  1798,  the 
Legislature  of  New  York  passed  an  act  for  the  special  benefit 
of  the  London  Associates  and  of  the  Holland  Company,  wherein 
they  were  empowered  to  hold,  sell,  and  convey  real  estate.  In 
March,  1819,  an  Act  declaratory  of  the  construction  and  intent 


of  the  Act  of  1798  was  passed,  empowering  aliens  "  to  give, 
devise,  grant,  sell,  and  convey  realty,  in  fee  or  otherwise,  to  any 
other  alien  or  aliens,  and  making  all  mortgages  upon  such  realty 
good,  valid,  and  effectual."  Non-resident  alien  proprietors  of 
realty  in  this  State  were  also  protected  by  the  treaty  of  1794, 
commonly  known  as  Jay's  Treaty.  In  1821,  an  act  was  passed 
to  perpetuate  the  testimony  of  Robert  Troup,  John  Greig,  and 
Joseph  Fellowes,  regarding  the  Pulteney  and  Hornby  titles, 
the  object  being  to  make  certain  facts  and  documents  pertaining 
to  the  foreign  ownership  matters  of  record,  and  producable  as 
testimony  in  any  trial  between  the  trustees  of  the  Pulteney  and 
Hornby  properties  and  squatters  entering  on  their  lands.  Pre- 
vious to  this  enactment  the  agents  or  trustees  were  obliged  to 
send  to  England  for  testimony,  proofs,  documents,  and  exempli- 
fications, in  each  and  every  petty  suit  of  ejectment  which  they 
were  obliged  to  bring. 

In  1840,  the  Assembly  of  this  State  requested  the  Attorney- 
General,  Hon.  Willis  Hall,  "  to  investigate  the  title  of  the  trus- 
tees of  the  Pulteney  estate  to  the  lands  claimed  to  be  owned  by 
them  in  the  counties  of  Steuben  and  Allegany,  and  report  a  full 
and  perfect  abstract  of  such  title,  together  with  his  opinion  of 
its  validity,  and  of  the  right  of  said  trustees  to  hold  and  convey 
such  lands."  An  exhaustive  opinion  by  Mr.  Hall  is  summed  up 
in  these  words :  "  Every  link  in  this  title  is  complete  and  perfect ; 
the  conveyances  are  formally  and  accurately  drawn  and  executed, 
and  the  execution  properly  authenticated.  The  Attorney-General 
is  therefore  of  the  opinion  that  the  title  of  the  said  trustees  to  the 
lands  in  Steuben  and  Allegany  counties,  and  elsewhere,  held  by 
them  by  virtue  of  the  will  of  Sir  John  Lowther  Johnstone,  is 
valid;  and  that  their  right  to  convey  the  same  in  fee  simple  to 
purchasers  is  unquestionable."  Even  this  opinion  did  not 
dampen  the  ardor  of  people  wishing  to  hold  and  possess  land 
without  paying  for  it.  In  1844  a  petition  of  916  inhabitants 
of  Steuben,  Livingston,  and  Allegany  counties  prayed  the  Legis- 
lature to  direct  the  Attorney-General  to  commence  a  suit  against 
some  person  holding  land  by  deed  or  contract  from  the  heirs  or 
trustees  of  the  Pulteney  estate,  in  order  to  test  the  validity  of 
such  conveyance.  The  petition  was  referred  to  Hon.  Geo.  P. 
Barker,  Attorney-General,  whose  report  thereon  fully  concurs 
with  the  opinion  of  his  predecessor,  Mr.  Hall.  In  1847,  Hon. 
John  VanBuren  was  directed  by  the  Assembly  to  investigate  the 


same  title,  and  if  he  should  be  of  the  opinion  that  the  lands  had 
escheated  to  the  State  to  bring  suits  for  their  recovery.  No 
report  was  required  from  him,  but  the  fact  that  he  brought  no 
suit  is  conclusive  as  to  his  opinion  of  the  validity  of  the  title. 
The  last  attack  through  the  Legislature  was  made  in  1850,  the 
attempt  being  to  repeal  the  act  of  1821,  "  to  perpetuate  certain 
testimony  respecting  the  Pulteney  property  in  this  State." 
Messrs.  L.  Stetson,  B.  F.  Tracy,  and  Charles  L.  Benedict  of  the 
Judiciary  Committee  reported  against  the  repeal,  and  said 
amongst  other  things :  "  The  title  to  the  Pulteney  estate  has 
often  been  the  subject  of  legislative  and  judicial  action,  and  so 
far  as  your  committee  are  advised  it  has  in  ever}r  instance  been 
sustained  as  a  perfect  and  valid  title."  ..."  It  is  manifest,  there- 
fore, that  there  remains  to  be  affected  by  the  repeal  of  the  law 
only  the  mere  squatter  who  has  entered  upon  and  occupied  some 
portion  of  this  land  without  the  shadow  of  a  right  so  to  do. 
Such  persons  have  no  especial  claim  to  the  consideration  of  the 
Legislature.  They  may  be  ignorant  who  is  the  true  owner  of 
the  lands  thus  entered  upon,  but  they  assuredly  know  that  they 
do  not  own  the  premises  themselves,  and  are  trespassing  upon 
the  rights  of  some  one." 

The  last  appearance  of  the  Pulteney  title  in  court  was  at  the 
Livingston  County  General  Term,  July,  1849,  before  Justices 
Selden,  Maynard,  and  Wells.  Suit  of  ejectment  was  brought 
against  Almerin  Graves,  a  squatter,  by  His  Royal  Highness 
Ernest  Augustus,  Duke  of  Cumberland,  and  others,  trustees 
under  the  will  of  Sir  John  Lowther  Johnstone,  deceased.  The 
following  are  among  the  points  made  by  defendant's  counsel,  and 
supported  by  ample  quotations  from  the  books :  "  The  plaintiffs 
are  bound  to  show  who  were  the  cestui  que  trusts  of  the  will.  If 
there  are  none  in  existence  then  the  trust  is  ended,  and  the  land  in 
question  reverts.  The  legal  estate  of  these  trustees  in  this  land 
remains  as  long  as  necessary  to  execute  the  trusts  of  the  will  and 
no  longer."  ..."  The  plaintiffs  are  bound  to  show  that  Henri- 
etta Laura  Pulteney  did  not  devise  the  land  in  question."  .  .  . 
"  The  plaintiffs  are  bound  to  produce  and  prove  the  deed  of  dis- 
position referred  to  in  the  will  of  Sir  John  Lowther  Johnstone, 
it  being  the  power  placed  over  the  trust."  ..."  None  of  the 
trustees  of  the  will  nor  any  of  the  heirs  has  been  heard  from 
within  seven  years.  The  presumption  therefore  is  that  they  are 
dead."  ..."  The  trustees,  being  aliens,  could  not  legally  take 


or  execute  the  trust."  ..."  A  sufficient  time  having  elapsed 
to  have  enabled  the  trustees  to  have  fully  executed  the  trusts  of 
the  will  of  Sir  John  Lowther  Johnstone,  they  are  now  divested  of 
the  lands  in  question."  But  these  and  many  other  ingenious 
points  were  brushed  aside  by  the  court,  which,  in  an  opinion 
written  by  Judge  Wells,  sustained  the  Pulteney  title  and  granted 
the  writ  of  ejectment. 

Two  other  cases  of  litigation  arising  out  of  loans  of  money 
on  lands  in  the  Genesee  Country  are  deemed  by  me  of  sufficient 
interest  and  importance  to  be  briefly  sketched.  It  has  doubtless 
been  observed  that  the  Farmers'  Loan  and  Trust  Company,  of 
New  York,  either  as  joint  owner  with  others  or  as  a  loaner  of 
money,  became  interested  as  early  as  1835  in  lands  in  Western 
New  York.  As  its  name  implies,  probably  one  of  the  objects  of 
its  organization  was  to  make  loans  on  farm  property. 

Some  time  in  1838,  Mr.  Charles  Carroll,  of  Livingston  County, 
borrowed  from  that  company  the  sum  of  $52,000  for  himself 
individually,  and,  as  executor  and  trustee  of  the  estate  of  Charles 
Carroll,  deceased,  the  further  sum  of  $43,000,  making  a  total 
of  $95,000.  He  gave  as  security  for  the  first  loan  2,800  acres 
of  land  —  most  of  it  improved  —  in  the  county  of  Livingston, 
and  for  the  second  loan  gave  security  on  lands  in  the  same  county 
and  on  improved  property  in  the  city  of  Rochester.  Full 
covenant  warranty  deeds  of  all  the  property  were  executed  and 
delivered  to  the  Trust  Company,  to  be  held  as  security  for  the 
repayment  of  the  money  loaned  with  interest  at  the  then  legal 
rate  of  seven  per  cent.  The  company  was  empowered  by  Carroll 
to  appoint  a  resident  agent  to  sell  and  dispose  of  the  pledged 
property,  collect  such  sums  as  might  become  due  on  land  con- 
tracts, and  also  the  interest  and  principal  of  bonds  and  mort- 
gages, execute  deeds  and  contracts  to  purchasers,  and  have  full 
power  and  supervision  over  the  property.  So  great  was  the 
confidence  of  the  company  in  Mr.  Carroll  that  they  appointed 
him  their  agent. 

The  Loan  and  Trust  Company  did  not,  however,  advance  act- 
ual cash  to  Carroll,  but  issued  to  him  its  trust  certificates  for 
$95,000,  having  twenty  years  to  run,  and  bearing  interest  at  the 
rate  of  five  per  cent,  per  annum,  every  certificate  of  $1 ,000  hav- 
ing forty  coupons  of  $25  each  attached.  The  principal,  and  last 
coupon,  became  due  on  the  first  day  of  March,  1858. 

Some  time  in  April,   1838,  Carroll  obtained  from  Messrs. 


August  Belmont  &  Co.,  of  New  York,  an  advance  of  sixty  per 
cent,  of  their  face  value  on  the  Trust  Company  certificates, 
and  authorized  their  sale  in  London  at  eighty-three  or  better, 
within  forty-five  days,  or  thereafter  at  the  best  obtainable  rate. 
The  certificates  were  sold  during  the  summer  by  Messrs.  N.  M. 
Rothschild  &  Sons,  and  the  proceeds,  amounting  to  $82,575.23, 
were  paid  over  to  the  Trust  Company  to  the  credit  of  Carroll,  by 
Messrs.  Belmont  &  Co.  Carroll  withdrew  the  money  and  paid 
interest  on  the  $95,000  up  to  September  first,  1839  (eighteen 
months),  and  thereafter  made  no  further  payments  either  of 
interest  or  principal.  On  the  16th  day  of  August,  1842,  the 
Trust  Company  wrote  him  urging  payment  of  the  interest  past 
due,  but  he  paid  no  attention  to  the  demand  nor  did  he  reply  to 
the  letter.  The  amount  then  due  the  company  was  $19,950. 
Soon  thereafter  the  company  sent  another  letter  by  the  hands 
of  Robert  W.  Lowber,  Esquire,  instructing  him  to  make  a  per- 
sonal demand  on  Carroll,  and  hear  his  reasons,  if  an}7,  for  non- 
payment. In  reply  to  this  demand,  Carroll  denied  any  indebted- 
ness to  the  Loan  and  Trust  Company  and  requested  it  either  to 
desist  setting  up  any  claim  against  him  or  at  once  proceed  to 
adjudicate  the  same.  From  this  it  was  evident  that  he  meant  to 
set  up  a  plea  of  usury  in  bar  of  his  indebtedness.  The  Trust 
Company  accepted  the  alternative  and  brought  suit.  The  case 
reached  a  final  trial  at  a  General  Term  of  the  Supreme  Court, 
held  at  Bath,  Steuben  County,  in  September,  1849,  before 
Justices  Maynard,  Wells,  and  Marvin.  William  Curtis  Noyes 
and  Hiram  Denio  appeared  for  the  plaintiff  and  John  C.  Spencer 
and  Alvah  Worden  for  the  defendant.  Verdict  for  defendant. 
Opinion  written  by  Justice  Wells.  He  held  the  transaction  to  be 
a  loan,  and  to  be  usurious  per  se.  He  said :  "  Suppose  A.  agrees 
to  lend  B.  one  thousand  dollars  and  it  is  a  part  of  the  agreement 
that  B.  shall  receive  the  loan  in  negotiable  promissory  notes 
of  a  third  person,  due  at  a  future  day  and  bearing  legal  interest 
from  the  time  of  making  the  loan,  and  that  B.  shall  repay  the 
amount  by  the  time  the  notes  become  due,  with  interest  from  the 
date  of  the  loan  at  the  rate  of  nine  per  cent.  Will  any  one  deny 
that  such  a  transaction  would  be  usurious?  " 

If  a  layman  may  be  permitted  to  reply  to  the  question  of  the 
learned  judge,  he  would  say  that  of  course  such  a  transaction 
would  be  usurious  because  nine  per  cent,  is  above  the  legal  rate. 
The  judge  further  says:  "  And  if  nine  per  cent,  would  be  illegal 


seven  per  cent,  would  be  equally  so,  if  the  notes  borrowed  bore  an 
interest  of  only  five  per  cent."  This  is  not  clear  to  the  lay  mind. 
An  agreement  at  that  date  to  pay  seven  per  cent,  was  surely  not 
usurious.  The  Judge  compares  the  trust  certificates  to  prom- 
issory notes,  but  later  in  his  decision  he  says  they  "  possess 
none  of  the  qualities  of  commercial  paper."  He  further  held 
that  "  though  the  conveyances  by  Carroll  to  the  Trust  Company 
were  absolute  in  terms  and  assumed  to  convey  the  entire  fee,  yet 
as  the  agreement  between  the  parties  showed  that  they  were  in- 
tended only  as  securities  in  the  nature  of  mortgages  for  the  re- 
payment of  the  certificates  issued  to  Carroll,  that  they  were  to  be 
considered  as  mortgages ;  and  further,  that  the  agreement  could 
not  be  enforced  as  a  loan  —  first,  because  the  company  did  not 
possess  the  power  of  making  loans ;  and,  second,  because  the  loan 
and  all  securities  relating  to  it  were  illegal  and  void,  as  being  in 
violation  of  the  usury  laws." 

The  lay  mind  easily  assents  to  the  latter  of  these  propositions 
because  it  bows  to  the  legal  mind,  but  how  a  warranty  deed,  after 
it  has  been  executed  and  recorded,  can  be  transformed  into  a 
mortgage  is  puzzling.  And  if  the  Farmers'  Loan  and  Trust 
Company  had  not,  and  has  not,  the  power  to  make  loans  it  should 
change  its  name. 

He  further  decided  that  "  holders  or  assignees  of  the  certi- 
ficates could  not  enforce  payment  of  them,  as  they  took  them  cum 
onere,  and  as  they  did  not  possess  the  qualities  of  commercial 
paper,  the  fact  was  sufficient  to  put  all  persons  dealing  in  them 
upon  inquiry,  and  thereby  deprived  them  of  protection  as  in- 
nocent or  bona  fide  holders." 

The  Loan  and  Trust  Company  of  course  paid  the  certificates 
at  maturity.  It  seems  to  have  rested  satisfied  under  the  decision 
of  the  General  Term,  though  Mr.  Geo.  F.  Talman,  so  long 
identified  with  the  company,  was  always  of  opinion  that  if  an 
appeal  could  have  been  taken  to  the  United  States  Supreme  Court 
a  reversal  of  Judge  Wells'  decision  would  have  resulted. 

A  case  almost  exactly  parallel  arose  out  of  the  sale  by  the 
Holland  Company  to  Messrs.  Duer,  Seward,  Schermerhorn,  and 
others.  The  lands  bought  having  been  divided  and  allotted  to 
the  several  purchasers,  a  part  of  the  money  to  pay  for  them  was 
borrowed  from  the  American  Loan  &  Trust  Co.,  a  financial  insti- 
tution of  Baltimore  having  branches  or  agencies  in  New  York 
and  elsewhere.     This  company  issued  to  the  borrowers  its  sterl- 


ing  certificates  payable  in  London,  having  twenty  years  to  run 
and  bearing  five  per  cent,  interest,  to  the  amount  of  £147,700. 
Abraham  M.  Schcrmerhorn's  proportion  of  this  borrowed  money 
was  (in  our  currency)  $151,933.44,  for  which  he  gave  his  per- 
sonal bond,  and  a  mortgage  on  his  allotment  of  the  Chautauqua 
lands.  Not  long  thereafter  Mr.  Schermerhorn  failed,  and  the 
Baltimore  company  foreclosed  and  took  possession  of  the  mort- 
gaged premises.  Meantime  the  assignee  in  bankruptcy  of  the 
Schermerhorn  estate  closed  up  its  affairs,  and  in  1843  his  client 
obtained  a  discharge.  As  a  part  of  his  duties  the  assignee  ad- 
vertised and  sold  at  auction  all  the  right,  title,  and  interest 
of  the  bankrupt  in  and  to  the  foreclosed  Chautauqua  lands ; 
Schermerhorn  himself  becoming  the  purchaser  for  the  sum  of 
two  dollars.  Previous  to  this  the  Baltimore  company  became 
embarrassed,  and  assigned  its  effects,  including  the  bond  of 
Schermerhorn,  to  Geo.  F.  Talman  and  others  of  New  York  in 
trust  to  pay  its  creditors. 

Mr.  Schermerhorn  having  by  his  discharge  in  bankruptcy 
obtained  a  new  lease  of  business  life,  brought  an  action  against 
Messrs.  Duer,  Robinson,  and  Seward,  and  against  Talman  and 
others,  assignees  of  the  American  Loan  and  Trust  Company,  to 
repossess  himself  of  his  Chautauqua  lands,  alleging  amongst 
other  things  usury  on  the  part  of  the  Baltimore  company.  A 
preliminary  trial  was  had  before  Chancellor  Whittlesey,  who  de- 
cided that  the  transaction  was  usurious.  The  case  was  carried 
to  the  Court  of  Appeals,  which  by  a  majority  of  one  reversed 
the  Chancellor's  decision.  The  gist  of  the  opinion  of  the  major- 
ity was  summed  up  in  the  allegation  that  a  litigant  must  come 
into  court  with  clean  hands,  and  that  Schermerhorn  "  must  do 
equity  before  he  could  ask  for  relief."  Although  it  would  have 
benefited  him  as  well  as  Schermerhorn  had  the  plea  of  usury  been 
sustained,  Mr.  Seward  strongly  opposed  it,  and  after  the  decision 
of  Chancellor  Whittlesey  promptly  made  over  to  Mr.  Talman  and 
his  co-assignees  his  entire  interest  in  the  purchase  from  the  Hol- 
land Company  for  the  benefit  of  the  creditors  of  the  Baltimore 
institution.  Honorable  business  men  will  heartily  endorse  the 
statement  that  no  act  of  Mr.  Seward's  long,  useful,  and  distin- 
guished career  reflects  greater  credit  upon  him  than  this,  and 
will  rejoice  that  the  decision  of  the  Court  of  Appeals  rendered 
the  sacrifice  he  was  willing  to  make  unnecessary. 

The  names  of  William  L.  Marcy  and  Heman  J.  Redfield  hav- 


ing  been  mentioned  in  these  sketches,  the  way  Mr.  Marcy,  repre- 
senting the  Albany  Regency,  paid  a  political  debt  in  1853  which 
was  contracted  in  1824,  is  interesting,  as  showing  the  Regency's 
good  faith  towards  those  who  obeyed  its  behests.  Mr.  Redfield, 
residing  in  Batavia,  represented  his  home  district  in  the  State 
Senate  in  1824.  The  Albany  Regency  had  views  regarding  the 
presidential  election  of  that  year  which  they  thought  would  be 
promoted  by  the  defeat  of  a  bill  pending  in  the  Legislature,  tak- 
ing from  that  body  the  choice  of  presidential  electors  and  giving 
it  to  the  people.  The  measure  was  popular  in  Mr.  Redfield's  sec- 
tion, and  very  few  members  west  of  Cayuga  Bridge  dared  to 
brave  their  constituents  by  opposing  it.  On  a  close  count  it  was 
found  that  the  vote  of  Mr.  Redfield  was  needed  to  defeat  the  bill 
in  the  State  Senate.  He  was  asked  by  Mr.  Marcy,  speaking  for 
the  Regency,  for  that  vote.  He  frankly  said  to  Marcy,  who  was 
his  intimate  friend,  that  if  he  opposed  the  measure  it  would  be 
political  death  to  him,  so  far  as  any  elective  office  in  his  section 
was  concerned.  "  Do  as  we  wish  you  to  and  we  will  take  care  of 
you,"  was  Marcy's  reply ;  and  Mr.  Redfield  voted  as  the  Regency 
desired.     The  political  results  were  such  as  he  predicted. 

For  reasons  best  known  to  themselves,  the  Regency,  which  had 
previously  opposed  De  Witt  Clinton,  supported  him  for  Gov- 
ernor in  1826,  and  he  was,  of  course,  elected.  It  was  natural 
to  suppose  that  the  support  of  such  a  powerful  junta  carried 
with  it  obligations  on  Mr.  Clinton's  part,  but  to  a  great  extent 
he  ignored  them  and  turned  a  deaf  ear  to  the  Regency's  requests. 
Amongst  other  things  they  asked  him  to  appoint  Mr.  Redfield  a 
Circuit  Judge  of  the  district  in  which  he  lived,  but  the  Governor 
had  other  views  and  declined  to  make  the  appointment. 

Parties  at  the  time  were  in  a  chaotic  state.  Clintonians  and 
Bucktails  were  merging  into  Jacksonians  and  National  Republi- 
cans, and  these,  especially  in  Western  New  York,  disintegrated 
to  a  great  extent  and  formed  the  parties  known  as  Mason  and 
Anti-Mason,  all  to  be  finally  marshaled  under  two  banners,  Whig 
and  Democratic.  The  Whig  party  carried  but  two  presidential 
contests  —  those  of  1840  and  1848  —  and  then  gave  way  to  the 
present  Republican  party.  The  Democratic  party  still  exists, 
but  the  men  composing  the  Albany  Regency  who  dominated  it  in 
State  politics  up  to  1860  are,  to  this  generation,  only  names. 
They  were  William  L.  Marcy,  Martin  Van  Buren,  Benjamin 
Knower,  pious  Ben  Butler,  Silas  Wright,  Edwin  Croswell,  Peter 


Cagger,  and  Dean  Richmond,  a  bold,  shrewd,  brainy,  and  power- 
ful combination. 

In  this  self-constituted  cabinet  of  all  the  talents,  Marcy,  in 
mental  caliber,  if  not  in  clever  political  chicanery,  stood  at  the 
head.  To  very  few  of  the  human  family  have  equal  powers  of 
mind  been  vouchsafed.  His  famous  saying  that  "  To  the  victors 
belong  the  spoils  of  the  enemy  "  has  passed  into  a  proverb.  He 
was  easily  the  brains  of  two  Democratic  administrations  —  those 
of  Polk  and  Pierce. 

Among  many  other  well-known  characters  in  the  Genesee 
Country,  developed  during  the  pioneer  period,  but  in  their 
maturity  more  properly  belonging  to  the  second  generation  of 
settlers,  was  a  farmer  of  Livingston  County,  by  the  name  of 
Abel.  Although  perhaps  not  more  entitled  to  special  mention 
than  hundreds  of  others,  I  shall  give  some  space  to  a  sketch  of 
him  because  of  his  selection  by  Leonard  W.  Jerome  to  undertake 
a  delicate  and  most  important  diplomatic  mission.  It  is  hardly 
necessary  to  say  that  I  have  Mr.  Jerome's  permission  to  make 
public  this  episode  of  the  Civil  War. 

The  farmer  was  a  man  of  great  natural  shrewdness  and  tomb- 
like reticence.  He  could  not,  like  Von  Moltke,  hold  his  tongue 
in  seven  languages,  but  in  his  own  he  was  not  excelled  by  anyone. 
These  qualities  had  attracted  the  attention  of  some  of  the  leading 
politicians  of  the  farmer's  party,  and  with  two  of  them  —  Mr. 
Seward  and  Thurlow  Weed  —  he  formed  a  life-long  intimacy. 
Bold  but  impenetrable,  aggressive  but  not  rash,  he  was  for  many 
years  the  right-hand  man  of  those  gentlemen  in  the  stronghold  of 
their  power  west  of  Cayuga  Bridge. 

It  may  as  well  be  confessed  at  once  that  as  a  politician  his  aims 
were  not  elevated  nor  his  methods  scrupulous.  The  higher  law 
of  his  creed  was  to  get  the  better  of  his  adversaries.  The  men 
who  fought  the  Albany  Regency  were  obliged  to  adopt  the 
weapons  of  their  opponents  and  the  motto  that  "  all's  fair  in  war 
and  politics  "  became  so  thoroughly  established  as  a  leading 
tenet  of  the  farmer's  faith  that  he  came  in  time,  if  it  served  his 
purpose,  to  apply  it  to  friend  and  foe  alike. 

The  farmer  was  a  wit  and  humorist  as  well  as  a  politician. 
One  or  two  instances  will  establish  his  reputation  in  this  respect. 
As  he  was  driving  along  one  day  he  met  an  old  friend,  a  gentle- 
man of  wealth  and  position  at  the  bar,  who  said  to  him,  "  Farmer, 
I  am  going  to  Europe  for  a  three  months'  vacation.     Come  along 


with  me."  "  I  should  like  to,  of  all  things,"  replied  Abel,  "  but 
I  can't  possibly  get  away  just  now."  "Why  not?"  said  the 
other.  "  Your  farm  won't  run  away  while  you  are  gone." 
"  Maybe  not,"  was  the  rejoinder,  "  but  something  else  might." 
"How's  that?  said  the  Judge.  "Well,  to  tell  the  truth," 
replied  Abel,  "  I  have  just  been  appointed  executor  of  a  large 
estate,  and  if  I  go  off  to  Europe  I'm  afraid  the  heirs  will  get 
away  with  all  the  money."  Although  an  active  politician,  the 
farmer  was  not  an  office-seeker,  preferring,  like  his  coadjutor, 
Mr.  Weed,  to  be  the  king-maker  rather  than  the  occupant  of  the 
throne.  On  one  occasion,  however,  his  constituents  having 
placed  him  in  nomination  for  the  State  Senate,  he  was  persuaded 
to  stand.  Shortly  afterward  as  he  was  driving  along  the  road 
he  met  Judge  Martin  Grover  coming  from  the  opposite  direction. 
The  judge,  as  well  as  the  farmer,  was  noted  for  a  rather  sarcastic 
humor.  After  the  usual  salutations,  the  judge  said:  "I  see, 
farmer,  you  have  been  put  in  nomination  for  the  State  Senate; 
now  if  you  will  promise  to  be  half-way  honest  I'll  vote  for  you." 
Quick  as  a  flash  Abel  replied :  "  Judge  Grover,  if  I  am  sent  to 
Albany  this  winter,  I  must  go  there  untrammeled  by  any  pledges 

Leonard  W.  Jerome  was  a  prominent  figure  in  finance  during 
the  War  of  the  Rebellion.  It  would  not  be  too  much  to  say  that 
from  1861  to  1865  he  was  easily  at  the  head  of  money-making 
and  money-spending  Americans.  He  had  early  imbibed  the  cor- 
rect notion  that  the  enormous  issues  of  paper  money  by  the  Gov- 
ernment must  inflate  values,  and  being  a  man  of  bold  and  broad 
views,  he  had  in  the  autumn  of  1861  already  become  a  large  holder 
of  stocks,  and  a  leader  of  the  bull  forces  in  Wall  Street.  Among 
the  properties  in  which  he  had  thus  early  become  a  heavy  owner 
was  the  stock  of  the  Pacific  Mail  Steamship  Company,  which  he 
had  carried  from  about  seventy  to  a  point  considerably  above 
par.  Things  were  going  on  to  Mr.  Jerome's  entire  satisfaction, 
when  one  morning  in  November,  1861,  a  piece  of  intelligence  was 
printed  in  the  daily  journals  which  startled  everyone,  and  de- 
lighted all  but  a  few  reflecting,  sober-minded,  thoughtful  persons. 
The  "  Trent,"  a  British  West-India  mail  steamer  which  left 
Havana  on  the  seventh  of  November  was  boarded  on  the  eighth  by 
the  United  States  man-of-war  "  San  Jacinto,"  commanded  by  Cap- 
tain Wilkes,  and  four  passengers  —  Messrs.  Mason  and  Slidell, 
Confederate  Commissioners  to  London  and  Paris,  and  their  secre- 


taries,  were  forcibly  taken  from  the  British  vessel,  against  the 
energetic  protest  of  its  commander,  and  the  admiralty  agent  in 
charge  of  the  mail.  No  event  since  the  firing  upon  Sumpter  had 
inflamed  the  public  mind  equal  to  this  act  of  Captain  Wilkes. 
He  was  lauded  to  the  skies,  and,  until  the  popular  judgment  had 
time  to  cool,  was  the  hero  of  the  hour.  International  law,  comity, 
and  courtesy  were  thrown  to  the  winds  by  hot-headed  enthusiasts, 
who  boastingly  proclaimed  our  ability  "  to  whip  all  creation." 
If  within  eight-and-forty  hours  after  the  seizure  of  the  Con- 
federate Commissioners  became  known  a  popular  vote  upon  the 
question  of  their  surrender  could  have  been  taken  it  would  have 
resulted  five  to  one  in  favor  of  holding  them  and  taking  the 
consequences.  A  panic  seized  the  stock  market.  Shares  tumbled 
pellmell ;  whilst  the  premium  on  gold  correspondingly  arose. 

This  was  death  financially  to  Mr.  Jerome,  or  soon  would  be. 
Although  a  firm  believer  in  the  inflation  of  values  certain  to  result 
from  large  issues  of  paper  money,  his  patriotism  and  unwavering 
confidence  in  the  great  future  of  his  country  inspired  him  with 
the  belief  that  the  paper  would  ultimately  be  "  as  good  as  gold." 
Time  showed  both  opinions  to  be  correct,  but  meanwhile  he  was 
ground  between  the  upper  and  nether  millstones  —  he  was  long 
of  stocks  and  short  of  gold.  The  shares  of  the  Pacific  Mail 
Company  were  specially  vulnerable,  and  dropped  to  the  neigh- 
borhood of  fifty.  War  with  Great  Britain  would  have  swept 
the  company's  vessels  from  the  seas.  After  a  few  days  of  such 
mental  suffering  as  must  inevitably  come  to  a  proud-spirited  man 
who  sees  ruin  staring  him  in  the  face,  Mr.  Jerome  bethought  him 
of  a  plan  by  which  he  not  only  extricated  himself  from  peril  but 
added  largely  to  his  fortune.  It  was  a  stroke  of  real  genius. 
There  was  probably  but  one  man  in  the  United  States  who  could 
have  procured  for  him  the  information  it  was  vital  for  him  to 
secure,  and  he  hit  upon  that  man. 

In  the  early  part  of  his  career  Mr.  Jerome  had  been  something 
of  a  politician,  and  was  for  some  time  editor  and  proprietor  of 
a  daily  journal  in  the  city  of  Rochester  which  supported  the 
measures  of  the  Whig  party,  of  which  Mr.  Seward  was  the 
acknowledged  head  in  the  State  of  New  York.  In  this  way  he 
had  become  acquainted  with  farmer  Abel,  and  with  the  fact  that 
Mr.  Seward  and  the  farmer  had  long  been  upon  terms  of  friendly 
intercourse  and  intimacy.  He  at  once  sent  a  telegraphic  dis- 
patch to  Abel  to  take  the  first  train  to  New  York,  as  he  wished 


to  see  him  upon  business  of  great  importance  to  both.  The  fame 
of  Mr.  Jerome's  exploits  in  the  financial  world  had  already  been 
spread  abroad,  and  the  shrewd  old  farmer  promptly  responded 
to  the  dispatch,  presenting  himself  next  morning  at  Jerome's 
office.  After  the  usual  civilities,  Jerome  took  Abel  into  a  private 
room  and  closing  the  door  said  to  him  in  an  off-hand  sort  of  way : 
"  Farmer,  would  you  like  to  make  some  money  ?  "  "  Indeed  I 
would,  Leonard,"  was  the  reply.  "  How  much  would  you  like 
to  make  ?  "  "  Well,  I  have  been  building  and  fixing  up  — " 
"Never  mind  the  details,"  broke  in  Jerome  —  "how  much?" 
"  Well,  if  you  are  in  such  a  devil  of  a  hurry,  Leonard,  I  think  it 
will  take  between  thirty-seven  and  thirty-eight  hundred  dollars 
to  put  me  straight  with  the  world."  "  I  can  show  you  how  to 
make  the  money,"  said  Jerome.  The  farmer's  eyes  glistened. 
Though  he  had  lonsc  been  a  forehanded  man  he  was  unaccus- 
tomed  to  making  in  a  day  or  in  a  single  transaction  such  a  sum 
as  he  needed  to  "  square  him  up."  "  Well,  Leonard,  what's  your 
scheme?  "  said  he.  "  You  know  Secretary  Seward,  don't  you?  " 
"  Know  him !  I  should  think  I  did !  Didn't  Thurlow  Weed  and  I 
take  him  out  of  the  Holland  Land  Company's  office  up  there  at 
Westfield  and  make  him  Governor?  Why,  bless  you,  he  has  vis- 
ited at  my  house  times  and  again,  and  when  he  was  Governor  I 
always  put  up  at  his  house  when  I  went  to  Albany.  Did  I  ever 
tell  you  about  —  "  "  No  time  for  stories,  farmer  —  are  you 
still  on  visiting  terms  with  him?  "  "  Bless  you,  yes ;  been  to  his 
house  in  Washington  a  number  of  times  when  he  was  Senator. 
But  what's  all  this  leading  up  to,  Leonard?  "  "  I  want  you  to 
go  to  Washington  and  find  out  whether  he  is  going  to  surrender 
Mason  and  Slidell  or  hold  them,"  replied  Jerome. 

The  farmer  "  caught  on  "  in  a  moment.  He  gave  a  long,  low 
whistle,  apparently  for  the  purpose  of  gaining  time  for  reflec- 
tion, and  then  said :  "  My  God,  Leonard,  you  play  for  pretty 
high  stakes,  don't  you?  It's  a  mighty  ticklish  job  you  want  me 
to  undertake,  do  you  know  it?  "  "  I  do  know  it,"  replied  Jerome, 
"  and  you  are  the  only  man  in  the  world  who  has  the  slightest 
chance  of  succeeding  in  it.  Are  you  willing  to  try  it?"  "I 
believe  you  are  right,"  said  the  farmer.  "  If  I  can't  get  that 
information  out  of  the  governor  no  one  can.  I'll  try  it,  anyhow. 
When  do  you  want  me  to  start  ?  "  "  At  once,"  said  Jerome. 
"  Hours  are  years  just  now."  Hastily  penning  two  dispatches 
he  handed  them  to  Abel,  saying :  "  There,  takes  these  with  you, 


and  guard  them  more  carefully  than  you  do  your  money.  I 
have  kept  copies.  There  is  a  government  censorship  over  all 
dispatches,  but  these  are  harmless  on  their  face,  and  mean  noth- 
ing except  to  you  and  me.  One  of  them  tells  me  that  Mason 
&  Co.  are  to  be  given  up,  the  other  that  they  are  to  be  held. 
Have  marked  both  plainly  so  that  there  may  be  no  danger  of 
your  getting  them  mixed.  Now  post  haste  and  catch  the  next 
train  to  Washington." 

Away  went  the  farmer.  Next  morning  early  he  registered  at 
Willard's  Hotel.  Bath,  barber,  breakfast,  and  fresh  linen,  put 
him  in  good  shape  by  11  o'clock  to  call  on  the  Secretary  of  State. 
There  were  very  few  men  in  the  world  who  could  have  had  an 
audience  of  Mr.  Seward  on  that  day,  but  he  was  delighted  to  see 
the  farmer  and  gave  orders  that  he  be  at  once  admitted  to  the  pri- 
vate room  where  work  at  that  moment  was  going  forward  upon  the 
letter  to  the  British  Government  surrendering  the  rebel  com- 
missioners. He  was  pleased  to  see  his  old  friend  and  said  to 
him  frankly :  "  Farmer,  it  is  a  comfort  and  a  relief  to  me  to  see 
your  honest,  sunbrowned  face.  I  shall  be  very  busy  all  day,  but 
I  want  you  to  send  your  luggage  to  my  house  and  be  there  at 
eight  o'clock  to  dinner.  Afterward  we  will  talk  over  old  times." 
The  farmer  was  much  too  shrewd  a  man  to  turn  a  visit  into  a 
visitation,  and  left  Mr.  Seward  to  his  labors,  promising  to  be  on 
hand  promptly  for  dinner.  They  dined  and  wined.  After  the 
cloth  was  removed,  Mr.  Seward,  under  the  genial  influence  of  a 
glass  of  old  Madeira  and  a  fragrant  cigar,  became  delightfully 
chatty  and  reminiscent.  He  spoke  of  the  great  accession  to 
the  Whigs  by  the  disruption  of  the  Anti-Masonic  party,  and 
of  the  wonderful  revolution  in  public  sentiment  caused  by  General 
Jackson's  veto  of  the  bill  to  recharter  the  United  States  Bank, 
of  the  withdrawal  of  deposits  from  the  banks  and  Mr.  Van 
Buren's  scheme  of  the  Independent  Treasury,  remarking  that, 
whether  rightfully  or  not,  the  people  attributed  the  hard  times  of 
1836-37  to  these  measures,  and  had  in  a  single  year  demolished 
the  apparently  impregnable  majority  of  the  Democracy,  and  re- 
turned him  as  Governor.  These  and  many  other  topics  the  great 
Secretary  discussed  as  he  only  could,  until  the  wee  sma'  hours 
were  approaching.  Abel  had  been  no  dummy  during  the  even- 
ing. His  shrewd,  humorous  comments  upon  men  and  affairs, 
and  his  racy  anecdotes  had  greatly  amused  the  Secretary. 

*'  The  farmer  told  his  queerest  stories, 
The  statesman's  laugh  was  ready  chorus." 


But  no  opportunity  had  as  yet  presented  for  introducing  the 
subject  that  was  uppermost  in  the  guest's  mind.  He  was  far  too 
shrewd  to  explode  it  like  a  bomb  upon  the  conversation,  knowing 
that  it  must  flow  naturally  and  easily  into  the  evening  talk  or 
there  would  be  no  possible  chance  of  bringing  out  the  informa- 
tion he  was  so  anxious  to  gain. 

After  a  momentary  pause,  Mr.  Seward  said :  "  Why,  farmer, 
I  think  I  must  be  losing  my  memory  or  my  manners.  I  have 
been  Mrs.  Abel's  guest  so  often  that  I  should  have  inquired  after 
her  long  ago.  I  hope  she  is  very  well."  Although  not  just  the 
opportunity  that  the  farmer  desired,  it  seemed  to  be  the  only 
one  likely  to  offer,  so  he  replied :  "  Thank  you,  governor,  Roxy 
(the  familiar  name  by  which  he  always  spoke  to  or  of  Mrs.  Abel) 
is  pretty  well  for  a  woman  of  her  years,  or  has  been  'til  lately,  but 
jess  now  she's  real  miserable."  "  I  am  very  sorry  to  hear  it," 
replied  Mr.  Seward.  "  Of  what  does  she  complain?  "  "  Well, 
to  tell  you  the  truth,  governor,  she  seems  to  carry  the  whole  bur- 
den of  this  war  on  her  mind.  It  was  bad  enough  before  we  took 
them  cussed  rebels  out  of  that  English  ship,  but  since  that  she  has 
hardly  slept  a  wink.  She  says  if  we  have  a  war  with  England  the 
Union  will  be  broken  up,  and  the  slave  holders  will  lord  it  over  us 
here  at  the  North  same  as  they  do  over  their  niggers,  and  she 
never  wants  to  live  to  see  the  day.  The  poor  woman  takes  on  so 
that  she  has  nearly  broken  me  up  too." 

Mr.  Seward  was  touched,  and  in  a  moment  of  sympathy  gave 
utterance  to  a  few  words  which  five  minutes  later  he  would  prob- 
ably have  given  anything  in  the  world  to  have  recalled.  He  said : 
"  Farmer,  you  go  home  and  tell  Mrs.  Abel  to  sleep  on  both  ears 
—  we  are  not  going  to  have  a  war  with  England."  Then  sud- 
denly seeming  to  arouse  he  straightened  up  in  his  chair,  leaned 
forward,  and  added  in  an  impressive  tone :  "  Abel,  I  have  known 
you  more  than  thirty  years  and  never  heard  of  your  betraying 
a  friend  or  a  political  secret.  The  information  I  have  imparted 
to  you  will  be  public  property  within  thirty-six  hours.  In  the 
meantime  it  is  known  to  but  one  man  outside  of  this  room,  and 
he  is  President  of  the  United  States.  The  Cabinet  know  noth- 
ing about  it.  The  "  Trent "  affair  was  referred  to  Mr.  Lincoln 
and  myself  for  settlement.  They  know  that  we  have  consid- 
ered the  matter,  but  do  not  know  that  we  have  arrived  at  a  con- 
clusion, or  what  that  conclusion  is.  Having  gone  thus  far,  I 
may  as  well  tell  you  that  I  have  to-day  —  or  yesterday,  rather, 


for  it  is  now  past  midnight  —  completed  the  draft  of  a  memo- 
randum to  the  British  Government  surrendering  the  Confederate 
Commissioners.  I  know  that  this  will  for  a  time  be  unpopular, 
but  I  tell  you,  farmer,  we  haven't  got  a  leg  to  stand  on.  The  act 
of  Captain  Wilkes  cannot  be  justified,  and  no  nation  having  the 
slightest  respect  for  the  honor  of  its  flag  would  submit  to  it.  I 
am  to  meet  the  President  at  the  department  in  the  morning  to 
look  over  our  memorandum  and  give  it  a  final  revision  if  neces- 
sary. The  following  morning  it  will  be  given  to  the  press  and 
the  world.  If  you  will  look  in  about  eleven  o'clock  I  will  intro- 
duce you  to  Mr.  Lincoln.  Meantime  it  is  time  honest  people 
were  abed.  We  breakfast  at  nine."  After  expressing  to  Mr. 
Seward,  his  delight  with  the  action  about  to  be  taken,  they  bade 
one  another  good-night  and  retired. 

The  farmer's  habit  of  early  rising  stood  him  in  good  stead. 
He  was  out  next  morning  by  daybreak  wending  his  way  to  the 
telegraph  office  at  Willard's  Hotel. 

The  fact  that  Mr.  Seward  had  not  expressly  enjoined  him 
from  imparting  the  information  of  the  previous  night,  was  suf- 
ficient, under  the  farmer's  code  of  morals,  to  justify  the  use  he 
was  about  to  make  of  it.  "  All's  fair  in  war  and  politics,"  was 
still  his  motto. 

He  had  to  wait  nearly  an  hour  for  the  censor  and  operator. 
When  they  arrived  he  handed  them  the  following  dispatch  ad- 
dressed to  Mr.  Jerome : 

"  My  daughter  has  been  seriously  ill,  but  is  out  of  danger." 

This  dispatch  being  entirely  harmless  on  its  face  was  at  once 
forwarded,  and  when  Jerome  arrived  at  his  office  he  was  the 
fourth  man  in  the  world  who  knew  that  our  Government  had 
decided  to  surrender  the  Confederate  Commissioners.  As  sport- 
ing men  say,  he  had  a  day  all  to  himself.  Confining  himself 
pretty  closely  to  a  private  room  in  his  office,  he  gave  out  orders 
right  and  left  to  buy  stocks  and  sell  gold.  The  street  was  puz- 
zled, and  when  they  traced  these  operations  to  Jerome  they  were 
in  a  greater  quandry  than  ever,  for  he  was  believed  to  be  already 
loaded  to  the  danger  line.  "  Night  came,  but  no  Blucher."  Not  a 
word  or  sign  from  Washington.  Could  the  farmer  have  been 
mistaken?  It  was  beyond  a  doubt  a  mauvais  nuit  for  the  great 
speculator.  The  morning  brought  welcome  and  splendid  relief. 
It  was  known  in  every  part  of  the  globe  reached  by  telegraphic 
wires  that  our  Government  Mas  to  surrender  Messrs.  Mason  and 


Slidell  with  their  secretaries.  Long  before  the  usual  hour  for 
business  an  excited  crowd  gathered  in  the  vicinity  of  the  Stock 
Exchange  and  began  to  buy  and  sell  —  a  custom  continued  dur- 
ing all  the  speculative  period  of  the  war.  Prices  went  up  with  a 
bound,  and  before  night  had  in  many  instances  reached  figures 
higher  than  those  current  before  the  "  Trent  affair  "  was  made 

Very  soon  after  being  introduced  to  Mr.  Lincoln  the  farmer 
took  leave  of  Mr.  Seward,  saying  he  would  like  to  be  the  bearer 
of  the  good  news  to  his  wife  and  neighbors.  He  arrived  in  New 
York  next  morning,  and  after  breakfast  at  the  Astor  House 
walked  down  to  Jerome's  office.  Being  a  stout  man  the  exercise 
had  put  him  in  a  glow.  As  Mr.  Jerome  tells  the  story,  "  He 
came  puffing  and  blowing  into  my  office,  took  off  his  hat  and  set 
it  down  on  my  desk,  pulled  a  big  bandana  handkerchief  from  his 
pocket,  wiped  his  forehead,  and  said,  '  Leonard,  I'll  take  a  check 
for  that  money.'  '  All  right,  farmer  —  how  much  did  you  say  it 
was?'  'Better  make  it  thirty-eight  hundred.'  'Very  good.'" 
Mr.  Jerome  went  into  his  business  office  and  returned  with  a  check 
for  five  thousand  dollars  which  he  handed  to  Abel,  saying :  "  You 
have  been  to  some  trouble  and  expense  in  this  matter,  and  it  has 
turned  out  pretty  well,  so  I've  made  the  check  for  an  even 
amount."  The  farmer  looked  at  it  and  said :  "  Thank  you, 
Leonard.  I  reckon  you  can  pretty  well  afford  it."  That  night, 
with  money  enough  to  "  square  up  with  the  world  "  and  give  him 
a  balance  in  the  bank,  the  farmer  set  out  to  carry  the  news  to 

Mr.  Jerome  was  too  shrewd  a  diplomat  to  breathe  a  word  about 
his  achievement,  and  it  was  not  until  some  time  after  Mr.  Sew- 
ard and  farmer  Abel  had  joined  the  silent  majority  that  he  dis- 
closed to  a  few  friends  the  means  by  which  he  found  out  — 
twenty-four  hours  in  advance  —  what  was  to  be  the  outcome 
of  the  "  Trent  affair."  The  crowning  evidence  of  great  gen- 
eralship is  the  ability  to  seize  the  right  moment  and  the  right 
means  for  turning  defeat  into  triumph. 


Clifton  Springs,  N.  Y.,  Jan'y  18,  1890. 
To  the  Clerk  of  Niagara  County, 

Lockport,  N.  Y. 
Dear  Sir: 

The  Holland  Land  Co.  closed  out  its  remaining  properties 
in  Western  New  York  in  1838  to  Heman  J.  Redfield  of  Batavia 
and  Jacob  Le  Roy  and  the  Farmers'  Loan  and  Trust  Co.  of 
New  York.  Conveyances  in  Genesee  and  Erie  counties  were 
dated  Octo.  10th  of  that  year,  in  the  former  by  one  deed  of 
55,818.20  acres,  and  in  the  latter  by  three  deeds  granting  a  total 
of  160,435.77  acres.     Consideration  in  each  case  one  dollar. 

Will  you  be  good  enough  to  give  me  the  number  of  acres 
conveyed  in  Niagara  County  with  the  consideration,  and  oblige, 

Yours  resp'l'y, 

E.  W.  Vanderhoof. 

Niagara  County  Clerk's  Office,  Jan.  22,  1890. 
Reply : 

I  find  three  conveyances  from  Willink,  et  al.,  to  The  Farm- 
ers' Loan  &  Trust  Co.,  each  dated  Jan'y  27,  1838.  1st.  cons'd 
$749,733.05  —  conveys  all  of  the  983,000-acre  tract  they  were 
seized  of  on  Dec.  31,  1835.  2d.  cons'd  $1,462,993.27  and  con- 
veys all  of  the  2,000,000-acre  tract  of  which  they  were  seized 
Dec.  31,  1835,  and  3d,  all  of  the  "  Willink  Tract  "  in  Niagara 
and  Erie  Co's  or  either,  of  which  they  were  seized,  Dec.  31,  '35, 
cons'd  $69,656.31. 

Very  truly  yours, 

Dan'l  Carroll, 


Clifton  Springs,  Jan'y  25,  1890. 
Dear  Sir: 

I  have  your  reply  of  22d  current.  I  think  the  deeds  you  men- 
tion from  Willink,  et  al.,  to  the  Loan  &  T.  Co.,  dated  Jan'y  27, 
1838,  were  preliminary,  and  that  a  subsequent  conveyance  or 
conveyances  giving  metes  and  bounds  and  acreage  was  executed 
later.  That  was  the  case  in  Genesee  and  Erie  Co's,  the  later 
deeds  bearing  date  Octo.  10,  '38.     Was  it  not  so  in  Niagara? 

Yours  resp'l'y, 

E.  W.  Vanderhoof. 
Daniel  Carroll,  Esq.,  Clerk,  etc.,  Lockport,  N.  Y. 


Niagara  County  Clerk's  Office,  Jan'y  28,  1890. 
Reply : 

I  find  it  as  you  state.  Three  deeds  bearing  date  Oct.  10, 
1838,  and  recorded  in  Book  of  Deeds  25,  at  pages  1,  18,  and 

Yours   truly, 

Dan'l  Carroll. 



THE  story  of  Mary  Jemison  was  a  familiar  one  around 
the  pioneer  fireside.  Without  regarding  the  polite 
phrase  of  the  French,  place  aux  dames,  the  "  white 
woman  of  the  Genesee,"  by  reason  of  her  interesting 
and  remarkable  career  as  an  Indian  captive,  and  by  her  priority 
as  a  white  settler  on  the  Genesee  River,  easily  takes  her  place 
as  a  prominent  and  dramatic  figure  in  the  early  history  of 
Western  New  York.  She  was  born  on  the  ship  "  William  and 
Mary  "  during  its  voyage  from  a  port  in  Ireland  to  Philadelphia 
in  the  winter  of  1742-43 ;  her  father,  Thomas  Jemison,  and 
mother,  Jane  Erwin  Jemison,  with  three  older  children  —  two 
sons  and  a  daughter  —  having  embarked  on  that  vessel  to  try 
their  fortunes  in  the  then  new  and  far-off  world.  The  father, 
having  been  bred  a  farmer,  removed  his  family  soon  after  landing 
to  the  western  frontier  of  Pennsylvania,  where  he  cleared  a  large 
tract  of  land,  and  for  a  number  of  years  enjoyed  undisturbed 
the  fruits  of  his  industry.  Here  two  sons  were  born  to  him,  so 
that  his  family  at  the  outbreak  of  the  French  War  consisted  of 
himself,  his  wife,  four  sons,  and  two  daughters,  the  subject  of 
this  sketch  being  the  fourth  child.  Recounting  in  her  eighty- 
second  year  her  early  recollections,  she  says :  "  The  morning  of 
my  childish,  happy  days  will  ever  stand  fresh  in  my  memory. 
Even  at  this  remote  period  the  recollection  of  my  pleasant  home, 
of  my  parents,  brothers,  and  sister,  and  of  the  manner  in  which 
I  was  so  suddenly  and  terribly  deprived  of  them  affects  me  so 
powerfully  that  I  am  sometimes  overwhelmed  with  a  grief  that 
seems  insupportable." 

In  the  spring  of  1752  and  succeeding  seasons,  reports  of  In- 
dian atrocities  were  circulated  in  Mr.  Jemison's  neighborhood. 
In  1754,  an  army  for  the  protection  of  the  frontier,  and  to  drive 
back  the  French  and  Indians,  was  raised  —  Colonel  George 
Washington  being  second  in  command.  In  that  arm}7  John 
Jemison,  an  uncle  of  Mary,  served  as  a  private,  and  was  killed 



at  the  battle  of  Great  Meadows  or  Fort  Necessity.  After  the 
surrender  of  this  fort  by  Washington,  the  French  and  Indians 
became  a  greater  terror  than  ever  to  the  English  settlements, 
but  the  beginning  of  the  year  1755  found  Mr.  Jemison  and  his 
family  still  unmolested.  Their  repose,  however,  was  destined  to 
be  short.  On  a  pleasant  spring  morning  of  that  year,  while 
her  brothers  were  at  the  barn  making  ready  to  go  afield,  her 
father  at  the  side  of  the  house  shaving  an  axe  helve,  and  her 
mother  busy  with  preparations  for  breakfast,  they  were  startled 
by  an  explosion  of  fire-arms,  and  the  whoop  of  a  band  of  Shawnee 
Indians.  They  surrounded  Mr.  Jemison's  dwelling  and  took 
his  family  prisoners  with  the  exception  of  the  two  older  boys, 
who,  being  at  the  barn,  made  good  their  escape.  Included  among 
their  captives  were  the  wife  and  three  children  of  a  neighbor, 
the  husband  and  father  having  been  killed  by  the  first  discharge 
of  the  attacking  party's  guns.  After  plundering  the  dwelling 
of  its  portable  valuables,  and  taking  as  much  in  way  of  provisions 
as  they  could  conveniently  carry,  the  scouting  party,  which  con- 
sisted of  six  Indians  and  four  Frenchmen,  set  out  with  their 
prisoners  for  Fort  Du  Quesne  —  now  Pittsburg.  During  the 
march  an  Indian  followed  the  party  with  a  whip  to  scourge  the 
children  and  quicken  their  pace.  It  is  probable  that  the  original 
intention  of  the  captors  was  to  take  the  entire  party  as  prisoners 
to  Fort  Du  Quesne,  but  this  design  was  relinquished,  and  on  the 
morning  of  the  second  day  they  butchered,  scalped,  and  mutilated 
their  helpless  captives  with  the  exception  of  little  Mary  and  the 
son  of  the  neighbor  killed  at  the  outset  by  the  attacking  band. 
Mary  at  this  time  —  1755  —  was  about  thirteen  years  of  age. 
Her  fellow-captive,  whom  she  always  referred  to  as  "  the 
little  boy,"  was  probably  a  year  or  two  her  junior.  Putting 
moccasins  upon  the  feet  of  their  youthful  prisoners  and  array- 
ing them  as  far  as  possible  in  Indian  dress  the  party  set  for- 
ward, and  after  a  toilsome  march,  which  was  interrupted  for 
three  days  by  a  heavy  storm,  arrived  on  the  ninth  day  after 
the  capture  at  the  fort.  During  the  journey  the  Indians  had 
succeeded  in  making  little  Mary  understand  that  the  lives  of  the 
party  would  have  been  spared  if  they  had  not  feared  pursuit 
and  capture  by  the  whites.  A  number  of  times  during  their 
trip  her  young  cavalier,  with  a  courage  beyond  his  years,  had 
endeavored  to  induce  her  to  join  him  in  an  attempt  to  escape ;  but 
Mary,  knowing  the  danger  and  apparent  impossibility  of  making 


their  way  without  a  guide  through  the  pathless  woods  to  a  white 
settlement,  declined  to  join  her  enterprising  fellow-captive  in 
his  precocious  effort  for  freedom.  Arrived  at  Pittsburg,  her 
boyish  companion  in  captivity  was  turned  over  to  the  French, 
and  was  never  again  heard  of  or  seen  by  her.  What  happened 
to  her  will  be  stated  in  her  own  words.  She  says :  "  I  was  left 
alone  in  the  fort,  deprived  of  my  former  companions  and  of 
everything  dear  to  me  but  life.  But  it  was  not  long  before  I 
was  partially  relieved  by  the  appearance  of  two  pleasant-looking 
squaws  of  the  Seneca  tribe,  who  examined  me  attentively  for  a 
short  time  and  then  went  out.  After  a  few  minutes'  absence 
they  returned  in  company  with  my  captors,  who  gave  me  to  the 
squaws  to  dispose  of  as  they  pleased."  She  was  accordingly 
embarked  in  a  small  canoe  with  the  two  Indian  women  and  con- 
veyed down  the  Ohio.  Her  female  custodians  resided  at  a  small 
Seneca  village  about  eighty  miles  below  the  fort.  On  reaching 
home,  the  squaws  divested  her  of  the  tattered  remains  of  her 
civilized  wardrobe,  and  dressed  her  in  a  new  and  complete  Indian 
costume.  They  had  recently  lost  a  brother  in  battle,  and,  accord- 
ing to  the  custom  of  the  Indians,  little  Mary  was  given  to  them 
to  supply  their  loss.  It  was  their  privilege  either  to  torture  and 
take  her  life  to  satisfy  their  vengeance,  or  to  adopt  her  into 
their  family  in  place  of  the  lost.  They  chose  the  latter  course, 
and  from  that  time  until  her  death,  at  the  advanced  age  of  ninety- 
one,  she  was  as  thoroughly  an  Indian  woman  as  the  squaws  who 
cared  for  and  reared  her. 

The  ceremony  of  her  adoption  very  much  resembled  a  wake. 
All  the  squaws  in  the  village  gathered  in  the  wigwam  of  the 
Seneca  women,  surrounded  little  Mary,  and  set  up  a  most  dismal 
howling,  weeping  bitterly,  and  bemoaning  the  death  of  the 
brother  who  had  been  slain.  Tears  flowed  freely,  and  all  the 
signs  of  genuine  grief  were  manifested.  One  of  the  sisters  in 
a  broken  voice  bewailed  their  loss,  and  extolled  the  virtues  and 
prowess  of  the  deceased.  Her  eulogium  ended  with  these  words : 
"  Oh,  friends,  he  is  happy!  then  dry  up  your  tears.  His  spirit 
has  seen  our  distress  and  sent  a  solace  whom  with  pleasure  we 
greet.  Deh-he-wa-mis  has  come,  then  let  us  receive  her  with  joy. 
She  is  handsome  and  pleasant.  Oh,  she  is  our  sister,  and  gladly 
we  welcome  her.  In  the  place  of  our  brother  she  stands  in  our 
tribe."  As  the  sister  ceased  speaking  the  grief  of  the  party 
turned  to  joy,  and  they  rejoiced  over  the  little  white  girl  as  over 


a  long-lost  child.  Her  Indian  name,  Deh-he-wa-mis,  signifies 
a  low,  musical  voice,  or,  perhaps  more  literally,  two  falling  voices, 
and  was  probably  given  her  because  of  the  great  difference 
between  her  sweet,  childish  tones  and  the  harsh,  grunting  gutteral 
to  which  the  sisters  were  accustomed.  Her  life  as  a  Seneca 
woman  now  began.  She  lived  in  the  summer  in  a  town  her  people 
had  built  on  the  Ohio  River,  called  by  them  Wi-ish-to,  and  as- 
sisted at  first  in  the  care  of  the  papooses  and  in  carrying  the 
small  game  killed  in  the  vicinity,  and  as  her  strength  increased 
began  to  work  in  the  cornfields  with  other  squaws.  After  the 
crops  were  gathered  the  tribe  moved  each  season  down  the  Ohio 
to  its  junction  with  the  Sciota.  The  forests  in  this  region 
abounded  with  elk  and  deer  which,  in  addition  to  their  skins, 
furnished  an  abundant  supply  of  meat,  while  the  marshes  and 
streams  afforded  liberal  supplies  of  peltry  in  way  of  muskrat, 
mink,  and  beaver.  These  the  women  assisted  to  dry,  tan,  and 
fit  for  market  at  Sandusky  and  other  trading  stations  on  Lake 

Two  years  passed  in  this  way,  when  peace  was  declared  be- 
tween the  French  and  English,  and  the  Indians  went  up  to  Fort 
Pitt  to  make  a  treaty  with  the  latter,  taking  Miss  Jemison  with 
them.  She  here  met  for  the  first  time  since  leaving  Fort 
Du  Quesne  —  the  name  of  which  had  been  changed  to  Pitt  — 
with  people  of  her  own  race  and  tongue,  who  were  much  sur- 
prised to  see  so  young  and  apparently  delicate  a  girl  enduring 
the  hardships  of  a  savage  life.  They  asked  her  name,  inquired 
into  the  circumstances  of  her  capture,  and  appeared  much  inter- 
ested in  her  behalf.  Her  Indian  sisters  becoming  alarmed,  and 
fearing  she  would  be  taken  from  them,  hurried  her  into  their 
canoe  and  never  once  stopped  paddling  until  they  reached  home. 
Their  fears  were  not  groundless,  as  the  English  had  determined 
to  offer  her  a  home  and  freedom.  While  living  at  Wi-ish-to  the 
Senecas  were  joined  by  a  party  of  Delawares  who  took  up  their 
abode  there,  and  lived  in  common  with  them.  The  Delawares 
were  one  of  the  subjugated  tribes  ruled  by  the  Iroquois.  They 
had  not  been  settled  very  long  with  the  Senecas  before  Miss 
Jemison's  sisters  told  her  she  must  go  and  live  with  one  of  them, 
whose  name  was  Shen-in-jee,  and  she  was  accordingly  married, 
before  she  had  reached  her  seventeenth  year,  to  the  Delaware 
brave.  She  says  of  her  husband :  "He  was  a  noble  man,  large 
in  stature,  elegant  in  appearance,  generous  in  his  conduct,  cor- 


teous  in  war,  a  friend  to  peace,  and  a  lover  of  justice.  The  idea 
of  spending  my  days  with  him  was  at  first  repugnant  to  my 
feelings,  but  his  good  nature,  generosity,  and  tenderness  toward 
me  soon  gained  my  affection,  and,  strange  as  it  may  seem,  I 
loved  him.  We  lived  happily  together  until  our  final  separation, 
which  happened  two  or  three  years  after  our  marriage."  Her 
first  Indian  child  —  a  girl  —  lived  only  two  days,  and  nearly 
cost  its  young  mother  her  life;  her  second,  a  son,  was  born  in 
the  fifth  winter  of  her  captivity,  and  proved  to  be  a  strong  and 
healthy  child,  living  until  1811,  when  he  was  killed  in  a  quarrel 
by  his  younger  brother  John.  Her  eldest  boy  she  called  Thomas, 
after  her  murdered  father.  When  this  child  was  about  nine 
months  old  she  set  out  on  foot  for  Little  Beards  town  on  the 
Genesee  River.  Her  two  sisters  had  preceded  her  by  more  than 
a  year.  She  was  accompanied  on  the  journey  by  her  husband 
and  her  three  brothers,  the  latter  belonging  to  the  Seneca  tribe. 
Arrived  in  the  neighborhood  of  Sandusky,  her  husband,  Sen-in- 
jee,  concluded  to  return  to  Wi-ish-to  and  spend  the  winter  hunt- 
ing with  his  friends.  He  accordingly  sent  her  forward  with 
her  brothers,  promising  to  join  them  in  the  spring  on  the 

Now  began  a  march  which  for  unflinching  fortitude  and 
plucky  endurance  has  scarcely  a  parallel.  Let  us  hear  her  own 
account  of  it.  She  says  :  "  Those  only  who  have  traveled  on  foot 
a  distance  of  five  or  six  hundred  miles  through  an  almost  pathless 
wilderness  can  form  an  idea  of  the  fatigue  and  suffering  I  en- 
dured on  that  journey.  My  clothing  was  thin  and  illy  calcu- 
lated to  defend  me  from  the  drenching  rains  with  which  I  was 
almost  daily  wet,  and  at  night,  with  nothing  but  my  wet  blanket 
to  cover  me,  I  had  to  sleep  on  the  bare  ground,  without  shelter, 
save  such  as  nature  provided.  In  addition  to  all  this,  I  had  to 
carry  my  boy,  then  about  nine  months  old,  every  step  of  the 
journey,  on  my  back,  and  provide  for  his  comfort  and  prevent 
his  suffering,  as  far  as  the  poverty  of  my  means  would  admit." 

Be  it  remembered  that  the  woods  were  pathless  and  continuous, 
that  the  streams  were  swollen  and  bridgeless,  and  that  but  one 
of  the  party  was  acquainted  with  the  trail,  over  which  he  had 
passed  in  going  to  and  returning  from  the  Cherokee  wars. 
Sherman's  march  to  the  sea  was  a  holiday  parade  compared  with 
the  heroism  of  this  tramp  by  the  plucky  little  Irish  woman. 
Her  brothers  had  caught  two  horses  near   a   deserted   Indian 


village,  but  wih  that  noble  disdain  of  toil  characteristic  of  the 
red  man  they  bestrode  the  steeds,  and  left  the  delicate  under- 
sized white  woman  with  her  burden  to  struggle  after  them  on 
foot,  never  apparently  having  heard  of  Dogberry's  remark  upon 
"  two  riding  of  a  horse."  But  all  things  have  an  end,  and  the 
party  at  last  arrived  at  Little  Beards  town  on  the  Genesee,  where 
they  were  received  with  every  demonstration  of  welcome  by  the 
sisters  who  had  preceded  them,  and  by  other  members  of  the  In- 
dian family.  Mrs.  Jemison  says :  "  I  spent  the  winter  com- 
fortably and  as  agreeably  as  could  have  been  expected  in  the 
absence  of  my  kind  husband."  It  will  be  seen  from  this  that, 
although  just  past  her  eighteenth  year,  she  had  already  become 
thoroughly  identified  and  satisfied  with  her  mode  of  life  and 
surroundings.  But  she  was  never  again  to  see  her  kind  husband. 
He  died  at  Wi-ish-to  the  winter  after  leaving  her.  This,  she 
says,  "  was  a  heavy  blow,  but  after  a  few  months  my  grief  wore 
off  and  I  became  contented."  Another,  and  to  her  an  appar- 
ently heavier,  blow  was  impending.  Peace  had  been  declared 
between  the  French  and  English  and  a  bounty  had  been  offered 
to  any  one  who  would  bring  in  the  prisoners  that  had  been  taken 
during  the  war  to  the  military  post  at  Niagara,  where  they  were 
to  be  redeemed  and  set  at  liberty.  She  preferred  death  to  liberty, 
and  an  agreement  was  made  with  one  of  her  Indian  brothers  that 
sooner  than  see  her  delivered  up  to  the  whites  and  freedom  she 
was  to  die  by  his  hand.  It  will  hardly  be  necessary  after  this 
statement  to  again  assert  how  strongly  she  had  become  attached 
to  her  Indian  mode  of  life.  She  remained  in  hiding  until  all 
danger  of  her  being  set  at  liberty  had  passed,  and  then  joyfully 
resumed  her  place  in  the  tribe.  She  soon  after  married  a  Seneca 
warrior  whose  name  was  Hiokatoo,  though  commonly  called 
Gardeau,  by  whom  she  had  four  daughters  and  two  sons.  Her 
affection  for  her  relatives  from  whom  she  was  so  terribly  parted 
seems  still  to  have  been  strong,  as  she  named  her  children  for 
them,  calling  the  girls  Jane,  Nancy,  Betsy,  and  Polly,  and  the 
boys  John  and  Jesse.  Thoroughly  satisfied  with  her  surround- 
ings, she  thus  describes  them :  "  No  people  can  live  more  happily 
than  the  Indians  did  in  times  of  peace  before  the  introduc- 
tion of  spirituous  liquors  among  them.  Their  lives  were  a  con- 
tinual round  of  pleasure.  Their  cares  were  few,  their  wants 
were  only  for  to-day,  their  thoughts  not  extending  to  the  uncer- 
tainties of  to-morrow."     She  pays  high  tribute  to  the  honesty 


and  morality  of  the  Indians,  tells  us  they  despised  deception  and 
falsehood,  and  held  chastity  in  such  veneration  that  a  violation 
of  it  was  considered  sacrilege.  They  were  living  this  peaceful, 
virtuous,  arcadian  life,  according  to  Mrs.  Jemison,  when  the 
trouble  that  had  long  been  brewing  between  King  and  Colonies 
was  about  to  break  forth  in  rebellious  war. 

Anxious  to  secure  the  neutralit}7  of  the  Six  Nations,  the  Col- 
onies called  their  sachems,  chiefs,  and  warriors  together  in  a 
general  council,  which  was  held  at  German  Flats,  in  order  to 
ascertain  in  good  time  whom  they  should  consider  and  treat  as 
friends  and  whom  as  enemies  in  the  war  then  about  to  break 
out.  The  result  was  a  treaty  of  peace  in  which  the  Iroquois 
solemnly  agreed  that  in  event  of  the  outbreak  of  hostilities  they 
would  not  take  up  arms  on  either  side,  but  would  observe  a  strict 
neutrality.  About  a  year  after  this,  agents  were  sent  to  the 
Six  Nations  requesting  them  to  convene  in  general  council  at 
Oswego  for  the  purpose  of  conferring  with  British  Commis- 
sioners, who  were  desirous  to  secure  their  assistance  in  sub- 
duing the  rebels  who  had  risen  against  the  good  King,  their 
master,  and  were  about  to  rob  him  of  a  great  part  of  his  pos- 
sessions and  wealth.  The  council  having  convened,  and  its 
object  having  been  stated  by  the  British  envoys,  the  sachems 
arose  and  informed  them  of  the  nature  of  the  treaty  they  had 
made  the  year  previous  with  the  people  of  the  States,  and  de- 
clared the}'  would  not  violate  it  by  taking  up  the  hatchet  for 
either  side.  The  Commissioners,  however,  were  not  to  be  denied. 
They  represented  to  the  Indians  that  the  people  of  the  Colonies 
were  few,  poor,  and  easily  to  be  subdued;  while  the  good  King 
was  rich  and  powerful,  both  in  money  and  subjects ;  that  his  rum 
was  as  plentiful  as  the  waters  of  Lake  Ontario  and  his  soldiers 
as  numerous  as  the  sands  on  its  shores,  and  if  they  would  assist 
their  great  father,  the  good  King,  the}"  should  never  want  for 
money?  arms,  rum,  or  blankets. 

Here  Mrs.  Jemison's  dusky  idols  step  down  from  their  pedes- 
tals. Their  fidelity  is  no  longer  perfect.  They  no  longer  de- 
spise deception  and  falsehood.  They  are  no  longer  candid  and 
honorable  in  their  sentiments.  In  a  moment  they  become  dis- 
honorable, false,  and  treacherous.  Stimulated  by  bloodthirsti- 
ness  and  greed  they  concluded  a  treaty  with  the  British  Com- 
missioners in  which  they  agreed  to  take  up  arms  against  the 
Colonies  and  continue  in  his  Majesty's  service  until  his  rebellious 


subjects  were  subdued.  As  soon  as  the  treaty  was  ratified,  the 
Commissioners  made  a  present  to  each  Indian  of  a  suit  of  clothes, 
a  brass  kettle,  a  gun,  a  tomahawk  and  scalping  knife,  a  quantity 
of  powder  and  lead,  a  piece  of  gold,  and  promised  a  bounty  on 
every  scalp  that  should  be  brought  in.  Thus  equipped,  these 
merciless  devils  went  forth  to  torture,  slaughter,  and  scalp  men, 
women,  and  children,  who  had  given  them  .no  offense,  and  with 
whom  they  had  but  a  short  time  before  made  a  treaty  of  strict 
neutrality.  It  would  be  idle  to  write  words  denouncing  the  red 
man.  He  acted  up  to  his  lights  and  instincts.  His  white  em- 
ployers acted  according  to  their  instincts,  but  not  according  to 
their  lights.  Their  conduct  may  be  safely  left  to  the  just  judg- 
ment of  mankind. 

For  a  time  all  went  well  with  the  red  men,  and  they  burned, 
scalped,  and  tortured  the  frontier  settlers  almost  without  op- 
position, but  the  cry  for  relief  at  length  was  heeded,  and  in  the 
autumn  of  1779,  General  Sullivan  was  sent  with  an  army  to 
devastate  the  Indian  country  and  destroy  their  means  of  sub- 
sistence. He  performed  the  work  effectually,  and  the  allies  of 
the  good  King  learned  by  sad  experience  that  in  war  there  are 
blows  to  receive  as  well  as  blows  to  give.  It  is  plainly  to  be 
seen  from  Mrs.  Jemison's  narrative  that  her  sympathies  were 
wholly  with  the  Indians  and  against  the  whites  in  the  war  then 
going  on.  She  says  of  Sullivan  and  his  army :  "  They  destroyed 
every  article  of  food  they  could  lay  their  hands  on.  They  burnt 
our  houses,  killed  what  few  cattle  and  horses  they  could  find, 
destroyed  our  fruit  trees,  and  left  nothing  but  the  bare  soil  and 
timber."  She  congratulates  herself  that  "  The  Indians  had 
eloped  and  were  nowhere  to  be  found."  The  noble  red  man  left 
his  squaw  and  pappooses  to  shift  for  themselves,  and  took  to  the 
woods.  The  result,  so  far  as  Mrs.  Jemison  and  her  offspring 
were  concerned,  was  that  she  was  obliged  to  husk  corn  for  two 
negroes  whose  crops  were  not  destroyed,  and  through  this  labor 
accumulated  twenty-five  bushels  of  shelled  grain  which  kept  her 
family  in  samp  and  cakes  for  the  winter. 

Soon  after  the  close  of  the  Revolutionary  War  the  Indians,  by 
treaty,  agreed  to  surrender  all  prisoners  held  by  them,  and  Mary 
was  again  offered  her  liberty,  which  she  again  refused  to  accept. 
The  Indians  were  pleased  with  her  loyalty,  and  told  her  if  it  was 
her  choice  to  live  among  them  she  should  have  a  piece  of  land 
which  she  could  call  her  own,  and  bequeath  at  her  decease  to  her 


children.  For  a  long  time  no  attempt  was  made  to  fulfill  this 
promise,  but  when  the  great  council  was  held  at  Big  Tree, 
Farmers  Brother  sent  for  her  to  attend.  He  presented  and 
urged  her  claim  to  the  land  that  had  been  promised  her.  Red 
Jacket  opposed  the  gift  with  all  his  influence  and  eloquence,  but 
the  little  white  woman  had  able  champions  in  the  United  States 
Commissioners,  two  of  whom,  Jasper  Parrish  and  Horatio  Jones, 
having  been  many  years  in  captivity  among  the  Indians,  were 
able  to  argue  her  case  with  Red  Jacket  in  his  own  tongue,  and 
at  length  convinced  him  that  it  was  the  white  people  and  not  the 
Indians  who  were  giving  the  land,  and  gained  his  assent  to  the 
transfer.  In  this  way  she  became  possessed  of  what  has  been 
known  ever  since  as  the  Gardeau  Reservation,  which  is  situated 
on  both  sides  of  the  Genesee  River,  near  Mount  Morris,  and  con- 
tains about  18,000  acres  of  land.  Mr.  James  Wadsworth,  of 
Geneseo,  who  now  owns  a  part  of  the  tract,  estimates  the  value 
of  the  whole  reservation  at  $45  per  acre,  or  a  total  of  $800,000, 
as  the  present  worth  of  the  gift  to  the  white  woman.  Referring 
to  her  property  she  says :  "  My  flats  were  extremely  fertile  but 
needed  more  labor  than  my  daughters  and  myself  were  able  to  per- 
form. In  order  that  we  might  live  with  greater  ease,  Captain 
Parrish,  with  the  consent  of  the  chiefs,  gave  me  liberty  to  let  or 
lease  my  land  to  white  people  to  till  on  shares.  This  made  my 
task  less  burdensome,  while  at  the  same  time  I  was  better  supplied 
with  the  means  of  support." 

Although  now  a  rich  landed  proprietress  and  able  to  live  at 
her  ease,  Mrs.  Jemison  was  by  no  means  free  from  trouble  and 
sorrow.  She  was  destined  again  to  encounter  severe  domestic 
afflictions.  Her  second  husband,  Hiokatoo,  was  about  fifty-five 
years  of  age  when  she  married  him  —  she  about  twenty-two. 
A  more  merciless  wretch  and  red-handed  fiend  never  breathed. 
To  bum  the  cabin  of  a  white  settler  and  throw  his  helpless  chil- 
dren into  the  flames  before  their  parents'  eyes,  to  take  an  infant 
child  from  its  mother's  arms  and  dash  its  brains  out  against  a 
stump  or  stone,  to  practice  every  torture  upon  prisoners  that 
ingenious  deviltry  could  invent,  was  pastime  to  this  gentle 
savage.  Yet  Madam  Hiokatoo  says  he  "  was  a  kind  and  atten- 
tive  husband,  and  uniformly  treated  me  with  all  the  tenderness 
due  a  wife."  Her  estimate  of  the  Indian  character  must  be  re- 
ceived with  many  grains  of  allowance.  General  Sheridan's  is 
preferable :  "  The  only  good  Indian  is  a  dead  one."     Even  Mrs. 


Jemison  is  forced  to  admit  that  her  loving  partner's  "  cruelties 
to  his  enemies  were  unparalleled,  and  not  to  be  palliated." 

Her  punishment  for  association  with  him  came  in  bearing 
children  to  him  who  inherited  his  disposition.  Two  of  her  sons 
were  murdered  by  a  third.  The  fratricide  seems  to  have  pos- 
sessed all  his  sire's  bad  traits  and  none  of  his  good  ones  —  if  he 
had  any.  In  a  quarrel  with  his  elder  half-brother,  Thomas  (son 
of  Shen-in-jee),  he  seized  him  by  the  scalp  and  dragged  him  out 
of  their  cabin  and  dispatched  him  with  a  tomahawk.  The 
sachems  assembled  in  council,  tried  John,  the  offender,  according 
to  their  laws,  and  acquitted  him.  A  statement  of  the  grounds 
of  this  decision  will  give  us  some  insight  into  Indian  notions  of 
justice.  Thomas,  for  some  cause  not  known,  had  always  called 
his  brother  John  a  witch,  and  as  they  grew  to  manhood  this  was 
the  cause  of  frequent  quarrels  between  them.  Another  source 
of  contention  arose  from  the  fact  that  John  had  two  wives,  which 
Thomas  held  to  be  wrong,  although  polygamy  was  at  the  time 
tolerated  by  the  tribe.  When  sober,  Thomas  was  peaceful,  but 
when  under  the  influence  of  liquor,  he  was  quarrelsome  and  seemed 
to  lose  all  reason  and  act  like  a  maniac.  In  one  of  these  fits  of 
delirium  he  had  threatened  his  mother  for  having  given  birth 
to  a  witch  (John),  and  had  gone  so  far  as  to  raise  a  tomahawk 
to  brain  her.  In  July,  1811,  he  came  to  her  house  in  her 
absence,  and,  being  intoxicated,  at  once  began  a  quarrel  with 
his  brother,  who  dispatched  him  as  stated.  In  view  of  all  the 
facts,  the  sachems  adjudged  Thomas  to  be  the  aggressor,  and 
acquitted  John.  It  would  be  a  mistake  to  conclude  from  this 
relation  that  John  Jemison  was  dangerous  only  when  assailed. 
On  the  contrary,  he  was  fiendish  and  aggressive  in  the  extreme. 
His  mother  says  of  him  that  "  from  childhood  he  carried  some- 
thing in  his  features  indicative  of  an  evil  disposition,  and  it  was 
the  opinion  of  those  who  knew  him  that  he  would  be  guilty  of 
some  crime  deserving  death."  Such  a  crime  he  committed  within 
a  twelvemonth  after  having  killed  Thomas,  by  murdering  his 
younger  brother  Jesse  in  a  drunken  quarrel.  No  notice  seems 
to  have  been  taken  of  this  butchery  either  by  whites  or 
natives,  and  its  perpetrator  lived  unmolested  until  some  time  in 
1817,  when  he  met  his  death  at  the  hands  of  two  Squakie  Hill 
Indians  named  Doctor  and  Jack.  The  sins  of  the  father  were 
visited  upon  the  children  of  Mrs.  Jemison,  all  of  her  sons  having 
met  violent  deaths.     To  her  3roungest  son,  Jesse,  she  was  af- 


fectionately  devoted.  She  describes  him  as  being  mild-tempered, 
good-mannered,  intimate  with  the  white  people,  whose  habits 
of  industry  he  copied,  and  willing  in  every  way  to  assist  her  in 
her  labors,  and  make  her  burdens  lighter.  He  shunned  the 
company  of  his  brothers,  and  this,  she  says,  "  together  with  my 
partiality  for  him,  excited  in  his  brother  John  a  degree  of  envy 
that  nothing  short  of  death  would  satisfy." 

Border  warfare  develops  many  remarkable  characters,  both 
good  and  evil.  One  of  these  who  obtained  a  bad  eminence  dur- 
ing the  Revolutionary  struggle,  and  was  a  prominent  figure  in 
the  early  history  of  the  Genesee  Country,  was  Ebenezer,  or  Indian, 
Allen.  He  was  sheltered  and  protected  by  the  White  Woman, 
with  whom  he  established  a  cordial  and  proper  intimacy.  She 
was  to  him  a  most  faithful  friend  and  ally.  Menace  and  en- 
treaty were  alike  powerless  to  shake  her  loyalty  to  the  backwoods 
renegade.  Her  recital  of  some  of  the  incidents  of  his  career 
will  be  given  in  her  own  words :  "  Some  time  near  the  close  of 
the  Revolutionary  War,  a  white  man,  by  the  name  of  Ebenezer 
xVUen,  left  his  people,  in  the  State  of  Pennsylvania,  on  account 
of  some  disaffection  toward  his  countrymen,  and  came  to  the 
Genesee  River  to  reside  with  the  Indians.  He  tarried  at  Geni- 
shau  a  few  days,  and  came  up  to  Gardeau,  where  I  then  resided. 
He  was,  apparently,  without  any  business  that  would  sup- 
port him ;  but  he  soon  became  acquainted  with  my  son  Thomas, 
with  whom  he  hunted  for  a  long  time,  and  made  his  home  with 
him  at  my  house.  Winter  came  on,  and  he  continued  his 

"  When  Allen  came  to  my  house  I  had  a  white  man  living  on 
my  land,  who  had  a  Nanticoke  squaw  for  his  wife,  with  whom  he 
had  lived  very  peaceably  ;  for  he  was  a  moderate  man,  commonly, 
and  she  was  a  kind,  gentle,  cunning  creature.  It  so  happened 
that  he  had  no  hay  for  his  cattle ;  so  that  in  the  winter  he  was 
obliged  to  drive  them  every  day  perhaps  a  mile  from  his  house  to 
let  them  feed  on  the  rushes,  which  in  those  days  were  so  numerous 
as  to  nearly  cover  the  ground. 

"  Allen,  having  frequently  seen  the  squaw  in  the  fall,  took  the 
opportunity  when  her  husband  was  absent  with  his  cows  daily  to 
make  her  a  visit ;  and  in  return  for  his  kindnesses  she  made  and 

*  Ebenezer  Allen  was  no  hero,  but  rather,  a  desperado.  He  warred 
against  his  own  race,  country,  and  color;  and  vied  with  his  savage  allies  in 
deeds  of  crueltv  and  bloodshed.     He  was  a  native  of  New  Jersey." 

—  Turner's  History  of  the  Holland  Purchase,  p.  297. 


gave  him  a  red  cap,  finished  and  decorated  in  the  highest  Indian 

"  The  husband  had  for  some  considerable  length  of  time  felt 
a  degree  of  jealousy  that  Allen  was  trespassing  upon  his  rights, 
with  the  consent  of  his  squaw ;  but  when  he  saw  Allen  dressed  in 
so  fine  an  Indian  cap,  and  found  that  his  dear  Nanticoke  had 
presented  it  to  him,  his  doubts  all  left  him,  and  he  became  so 
violently  enraged  that  he  caught  her  by  the  hair  of  her  head, 
dragged  her  on  the  ground  to  my  house,  a  distance  of  forty 
rods,  and  threw  her  in  at  the  door.  Hiokatoo,  my  husband,  ex- 
asperated at  the  sight  of  so  much  inhumanity,  hastily  took  down 
his  old  tomahawk,  which  for  a  while  had  lain  idle,  shook  it  over 
the  cuckold's  head,  and  bade  him  jogo  (i.  e.,  go  off).  The  en- 
raged husband,  well  knowing  that  he  should  feel  a  blow  if  he 
waited  to  hear  the  order  repeated,  instantly  retreated,  and  went 
down  the  river  to  his  cattle.  We  protected  the  poor  Nanticoke 
woman,  and  gave  her  victuals ;  and  Allen  sympathized  with  her 
in  her  misfortunes  till  spring,  when  her  husband  came  to  her, 
acknowledged  his  former  errors,  and  that  he  had  abused  her 
without  a  cause,  promised  a  reformation,  and  she  received  him 
with  every  mark  of  a  renewal  of  her  affection.  They  went  home 
lovingly,  and  soon  after  removed  to  Niagara. 

"  The  same  spring,  Allen  commenced  working  my  flats,  and 
continued  to  labor  there  till  after  the  peace  of  1783.  He  then 
went  to  Philadelphia  on  some  business  that  detained  him  but  a 
few  days,  and  returned  with  a  horse  and  some  dry  goods,  which 
he  carried  to  a  place  that  is  now  called  Mount  Morris,  where  he 
built  or  bought  a  small  house. 

"  The  British  and  Indians  on  the  Niagara  frontier,  dis- 
satisfied with  the  treaty  of  peace,  were  determined,  at  all  hazards, 
to  continue  their  depredations  upon  the  white  settlements  which 
lay  between  them  and  Albany.  They  actually  made  ready,  and 
were  about  setting  out  on  an  expedition  to  that  effect,  when 
Allen  (who  by  this  time  understood  their  system  of  war)  took  a 
belt  of  wampum,  which  he  had  fraudulently  procured,  and  car- 
ried it  as  a  token  of  peace  from  the  Indians  to  the  commander 
of  the  nearest  American  military  post.  The  Indians  were  soon 
answered  by  the  American  officer,  that  the  wampum  was  cordially 
accepted,  and  that  a  continuance  of  peace  was  ardently  wished 
for.  The  Indians,  at  this,  were  chagrined  and  disappointed 
beyond  measure ;  but,  as  they  held  the  wampum  to  be  a  sacred 


thing,  they  dared  not  go  against  the  import  of  its  meaning,  and 
immediately  buried  the  hatchet,  as  it  respected  the  people  of  the 
United  States,  and  smoked  the  pipe  of  peace.  They,  however, 
resolved  to  punish  Allen  for  his  officiousness  in  meddling  with 
their  national  affairs,  by  presenting  the  sacred  wampum  without 
their  knowledge;  and  went  about  devising  means  for  his  detection. 
A  party  was  accordingly  dispatched  from  Fort  Niagara  to  ap- 
prehend him,  with  orders  to  conduct  him  to  that  post  for  trial, 
or  for  safe  keeping,  till  such  time  as  his  fate  should  be  deter- 
mined upon  in  a  legal  manner. 

"  The  party  came  on ;  but  before  it  arrived  at  Gardeau,  Allen 
got  news  of  its  approach,  and  fled  for  safety,  leaving  the  horse 
and  goods  that  he  had  brought  from  Philadelphia  an  easy  prey 
to  his  enemies.  He  had  not  been  long  absent  when  they  arrived 
at  Gardeau,  where  they  made  diligent  search  for  him  till  they 
were  satisfied  that  they  could  not  find  him,  and  then  seized  the 
effects  which  he  had  left  and  returned  to  Niagara.  My  son 
Thomas  went  with  them,  with  Allen's  horse,  and  carried  the 

"  Alien,  on  finding  that  his  enemies  had  gone,  came  back  to  my 
house,  where  he  lived  as  before ;  but  of  his  return  they  were  soon 
notified  at  Niagara,  and  Nettles  (who  married  Priscilla  Ramsay), 
with  a  small  party  of  Indians,  came  on  to  take  him.  He,  how- 
ever, by  some  means  found  that  they  were  near,  and  gave  me  his 
box  of  money  and  trinkets  to  keep  safely  till  he  called  for  it,  and 
again  took  to  the  woods.  Nettles  came  on,  determined,  at  all 
events,  to  take  him  before  he  went  back;  and,  in  order  to  ac- 
complish his  design,  he,  with  his  Indians,  hunted  in  the  day  time, 
and  lay  by  at  night  at  my  house ;  and  in  that  way  they  practiced 
for  a  number  of  days.  Allen  watched  the  motions  of  his  pur- 
suers, and  every  night  after  they  had  gone  to  rest,  came  home 
and  got  some  food,  and  then  returned  to  his  retreat.  It  was  in 
the  fall,  and  the  weather  was  cold  and  rainy,  so  that  he  suffered 
extremely.  Some  nights  he  sat  in  my  chamber  till  nearly  day- 
break, while  his  enemies  were  below ;  and  when  the  time  arrived, 
I  assisted  him  to  escape  unnoticed. 

"  Nettles  at  length  abandoned  the  chase,  went  home,  and  Allen, 
all  in  tatters,  came  in.  By  running  in  the  woods  his  clothing 
had  become  torn  into  rags,  so  that  he  was  in  a  suffering  condi- 
tion, almost  naked.  Hiokatoo  gave  him  a  blanket,  and  a  piece 
of  broadcloth  for  a  pair  of  trousers.     Allen  made  his  trousers 


himself,  and  then  built  a  raft,  on  which  he  went  down  the  river  to 
his  own  place  at  Mount  Morris. 

"  About  that  time  he  married  a  squaw,  whose  name  was  Sally. 

"  The  Niagara  people,  finding  that  he  was  at  his  own  house, 
came  and  took  him  by  surprise,  and  carried  him  to  Niagara. 
Fortunately  for  him,  it  so  happened  that  just  as  they  arrived  at 
the  fort,  a  house  took  fire,  and  his  keepers  all  left  him,  to  save 
the  building  if  possible.  Allen  had  supposed  his  doom  to  be 
nearly  sealed ;  but,  finding  himself  at  liberty,  he  took  to  his  heels, 
left  his  escort  to  put  out  the  fire,  and  ran  to  Tonawanda.  There 
an  Indian  gave  him  some  refreshments,  and  a  good  gun,  with 
which  he  hastened  on  to  Little  Beard's  Town,  where  he  found  his 
squaw.  Not  daring  to  risk  himself  at  that  place,  for  fear  of 
being  given  up,  he  made  her  but  a  short  visit,  and  came  im- 
mediately to  Gardeau. 

"  Just  as  he  got  to  the  top  of  the  hill  above  the  Gardeau  Flats, 
he  discovered  a  party  of  British  soldiers  and  Indians  in  pursuit 
of  him ;  and,  in  fact,  they  were  so  near  that  he  was  satisfied  that 
they  saw  him,  and  concluded  that  it  would  be  impossible  for  him 
to  escape.  The  love  of  liberty,  however,  added  to  his  natural 
swiftness,  gave  him  sufficient  strength  to  make  his  escape  to  his 
former  castle  of  safety.  His  pursuers  came  immediately  to  my 
house,  where  they  expected  to  have  found  him  secreted,  and  under 
my  protection.  They  told  me  where  they  had  seen  him  but  a  few 
moments  before,  and  that  they  were  confident  that  it  was  within 
my  power  to  put  him  into  their  hands.  As  I  was  perfectly  clear 
of  having  had  any  hand  in  his  escape,  I  told  them  plainly  that  I 
had  not  seen  him  since  he  was  taken  to  Niagara,  and  that  I  could 
give  them  no  information  at  all  respecting  him.  Still  unsatis- 
fied, and  doubting  my  veracity,  they  advised  my  Indian  brother 
to  use  his  influence  to  draw  from  me  the  secret  of  his  concealment, 
which  they  had  an  idea  that  I  considered  of  great  importance, 
not  only  to  him  but  to  myself.  I  persisted  in  my  ignorance  of 
his  situation,  and  finally  they  left  me. 

"  Although  I  had  not  seen  Allen,  I  knew  his  place  of  security, 
and  was  well  aware  that,  if  I  told  them  the  place  where  he  had 
formerly  hid  himself,  they  would  have  no  difficulty  in  making  him 
a  prisoner. 

"  He  came  to  my  house  in  the  night,  and  awoke  me  with  the 
greatest  caution,  fearing  that  some  of  his  enemies  might  be 
watching  to  take  him  at  a  time  when,  and  in  a  place  where,  it  would 


be  impossible  for  him  to  make  his  escape.  I  got  up,  and  assured 
him  that  he  was  then  safe;  but  that  his  enemies  would  return 
early  in  the  morning,  and  search  him  out  if  it  should  be  possible. 
Having  given  him  some  victuals,  which  he  received  thankfully,  I 
told  him  to  go,  but  to  return  the  next  night  to  a  certain  corner 
of  the  fence  near  my  house,  where  he  would  find  a  quantity  of 
meal  that  I  would  have  prepared  and  deposited  there  for  his 

"  Early  the  next  morning,  Nettles  and  his  company  came  in 
while  I  was  pounding  the  meal  for  Allen,  and  insisted  upon  my 
giving  him  up.  I  again  told  them  that  I  did  not  know  where  he 
was,  and  that  I  could  not,  neither  would  I,  tell  them  anything 
about  him.  I  well  knew  that  Allen  considered  his  life  in  my 
hands ;  and  although  it  was  my  intention  not  to  lie,  I  was  fully 
determined  to  keep  his  situation  a  profound  secret.  They  con- 
tinued their  labor,  and  examined,  as  they  supposed,  every  crevice, 
gully,  tree,  and  hollow  log  in  the  neighboring  woods,  and  at  last 
concluded  that  he  had  left  the  country,  gave  him  up  for  lost,  and 
returned  home. 

"  At  that  time  Allen  lay  in  a  secret  place  in  the  gulf,  a  short 
distance  above  my  flats,  in  a  hole  that  he  accidentally  found  in  a 
rock  near  the  river.  At  night  he  came  and  got  the  meal  at  the 
corner  of  the  fence  as  I  had  directed  him,  and  afterward  lived  in 
the  gulf  two  weeks.  Each  night  he  came  to  the  pasture  and 
milked  one  of  my  cows,  without  any  other  vessel  in  which  to 
receive  the  milk  than  his  hat,  out  of  which  he  drank  it.  I  sup- 
plied him  with  meal,  but,  fearing  to  build  a  fire,  he  was  obliged 
to  eat  it  raw,  and  wash  it  down  with  the  milk.  Nettles  having  left 
our  neighborhood,  and  Allen  considering  himself  safe,  left  his 
little  cave,  and  came  home.  I  gave  him  his  box  of  money  and 
trinkets,  and  he  went  to  his  own  house  at  Mount  Morris.  It  was 
generally  considered,  by  the  Indians  of  our  tribe,  that  Allen 
was  an  innocent  man,  and  that  the  Niagara  people  were  persecut- 
ing him  without  a  just  cause.  Little  Beard,  then  about  to  go 
to  the  eastward  on  public  business,  charged  his  Indians  not  to 
meddle  with  Allen,  but  to  let  him  live  among  them  peaceably,  and 
enjoy  himself  with  his  family  and  property  if  he  could.  Having 
the  protection  of  the  chief,  he  felt  himself  safe,  and  let  his  situa- 
tion be  known  to  the  whites,  from  whom  he  suspected  no  harm. 
They,  however,  were  more  inimical  than  our  Indians,  and  were 
easily  bribed  by  Nettles  to  assist  in  bringing  him  to  justice. 


Nettles  came  on,  and  the  whites,  as  they  had  agreed,  gave  poor 
Allen  up  to  him.  He  was  bound,  and  carried  to  Niagara,  where 
he  was  confined  in  prison  through  the  winter.  In  the  spring  he 
was  taken  to  Montreal  or  Quebec  for  trial,  and  was  honorably 
acquitted.  The  crime  for  which  he  was  tried  was  for  having 
carried  the  wampum  to  the  Americans,  and  thereby  putting  too 
sudden  a  stop  to  their  war. 

"  From  the  place  of  his  trial  he  went  directly  to  Philadelphia, 
and  purchased  on  credit  a  boat  load  of  goods,  which  he  brought 
by  water  to  Conhocton,  where  he  left  them,  and  came  to  Mount 
Morris  for  assistance  to  get  them  brought  on.  The  Indians 
readily  went  with  horses,  and  brought  them  to  his  house,  where 
he  disposed  of  his  drygoods ;  but  not  daring  to  let  the  Indians 
begin  to  drink  strong  liquor,  for  fear  of  the  quarrels  which  would 
naturally  follow,  he  sent  his  spirits  to  my  place,  where  we  sold 
them.  For  his  goods  he  received  ginseng  roots,  principally, 
and  a  few  skins.  Ginseng  at  that  time  was  plenty,  and  com- 
manded a  high  price.  We  prepared  the  whole  that  he  received 
for  the  market,  expecting  that  he  would  carry  them  to  Philadelphia. 
In  that  I  was  disappointed;  for,  when  he  had  disposed  of,  and 
got  pay  for,  all  his  goods,  he  took  the  ginseng  and  skins  to 
Niagara,  and  there  sold  them,  and  came  home. 

"  Tired  of  dealing  in  goods,  he  planted  a  large  field  of  corn 
on  or  near  his  own  land,  attended  to  it  faithfully,  and  succeeded 
in  raising  a  large  crop,  which  he  harvested,  loaded  into  canoes, 
and  carried  down  the  river  to  the  mouth  of  Allen's  Creek,  then 
called  by  the  Indians  Gin-is-a-ga,  where  he  unloaded  it,  built  him 
a  house,  and  lived  with  his  family. 

"  The  next  season  he  planted  corn  at  that  place,  and  built  a 
grist-mill  and  sawmill  on  Genesee  Falls,  now  called  Rochester. 

"  At  the  time  Allen  built  the  mills,  he  had  an  old  German  living 
with  him  by  the  name  of  Andrews,  whom  he  sent  in  a  canoe  down 
the  river  with  his  mill  irons.  Allen  went  down  at  the  same  time ; 
but,  before  they  got  to  the  mills,  Allen  threw  the  old  man  over- 
board, as  it  was  then  generally  believed,  for  he  was  never  seen  or 
heard  of  afterward. 

"  In  the  course  of  the  season  in  which  Allen  built  his  mills, 
he  became  acquainted  with  the  daughter  of  a  white  man  who  was 
moving  to  Niagara.  She  was  handsome,  and  Allen  soon  got  into 
her  good  graces,  so  that  he  married  and  took  her  home,  to  be 
a  joint  partner  with  Sally,  the  squaw,  whom  she  had  never  heard 


of  till  she  got  home  and  found  her  in  full  possession ;  but  it  was 
too  late  to  retrace  the  hasty  steps  she  had  taken,  for  her  father 
had  left  her  in  the  care  of  a  tender  husband,  and  gone  on.  She, 
however,  found  that  she  enjoyed  at  least  an  equal  half  of  her 
husband's  affections,  and  made  herself  contented.  Her  father's 
name  I  have  forgotten,  but  hers  was  Luc}7. 

"  Allen  was  not  contented  with  two  wives,  for  in  a  short  time 
after  he  had  married  Lucy  he  came  up  to  my  house,  where  he 
found  a  young  woman  who  had  an  old  husband  with  her.  They 
had  been  on  a  long  journey,  and  called  at  my  place  to  recruit 
and  rest  themselves.  She  filled  Allen's  eye,  and  he  accordingly 
fixed  upon  a  plan  to  get  her  into  his  possession.  He  praised  his 
situation,  enumerated  his  advantages,  and  finally  persuaded  them 
to  go  home  and  tarry  with  him  a  few  days  at  least,  and  partake 
of  a  part  of  his  comforts.  They  accepted  his  generous  invita- 
tion, and  went  home  with  him.  But  they  had  been  there  but 
two  or  three  days,  when  Allen  took  the  old  gentleman  out  to  view 
his  flats ;  and  as  they  were  deliberately  walking  on  the  bank  of 
the  river  pushed  him  into  the  water.  The  old  man,  almost 
strangled,  succeeded  in  getting  out ;  but  his  fall  and  exertions 
had  so  powerful  an  effect  upon  his  system  that  he  died  in  two 
or  three  days,  and  left  his  young  widow  to  the  protection  of 
his  murderer.  She  lived  with  him  about  one  year  in  a  state  of 
concubinage,  and  then  left  him. 

"  How  long  Allen  lived  at  Allen's  Creek  I  am  unable  to  state ; 
but  soon  after  the  young  widow  left  him,  he  removed  to  his  old 
place  at  Mount  Morris,  and  built  a  house,  where  he  made  Sally  — 
his  squaw,  by  whom  he  had  two  daughters  —  a  slave  to  Lucy,  by 
whom  he  had  one  son  ;  still,  however,  he  considered  Sally  to  be  his 
wife.  After  Allen  came  to  Mount  Morris  at  that  time,  he  mar- 
ried a  girl  by  the  name  of  Morilla  Gregory,  whose  father,  at 
the  time,  lived  on  Genesee  Flats.  The  ceremony  being  over,  he 
took  her  home  to  live  in  common  with  his  other  wives ;  but  his 
house  was  too  small  for  his  family  —  for  Sally  and  Lucy,  con- 
ceiving that  their  lawful  privileges  would  be  abridged  if  they 
received  a  partner,  united  their  strength,  and  whipped  poor 
Morilla  so  cruelly  that  Allen  was  obliged  to  keep  her  in  a  small 
Indian  house,  a  short  distance  from  his  own,  or  lose  her  entirely. 
Morilla,  before  she  left  Mount  Morris,  had  four  children. 

"  One  of  Morilla's  sisters  lived  with  Allen  about  a  year  after 
Morilla  was  married,  and  then  quit  him. 


"  A  short  time  after  they  had  been  living  at  Mount  Morris, 
Allen  prevailed  upon  the  chiefs  to  give  to  his  Indian  children  a 
tract  of  land  two  miles  square,  where  he  then  resided.  The 
chiefs  gave  them  the  land,  but  he  so  artfully  contrived  the  con- 
veyance that  he  could  apply  it  to  his  own  use,  and  by  alienating 
his  right  destroy  the  claim  of  his  children. 

"  Having  secured  the  land  in  that  way  to  himself,  he  sent 
his  two  Indian  girls  to  Trenton,  N.  J.,  and  his  white  son  to 
Philadelphia,  for  the  purpose  of  giving  each  of  them  a  respect- 
able English  education. 

"  While  his  children  were  at  school,  he  went  to  Philadelphia 
and  sold  his  right  to  the  land,  which  he  had  begged  of  the  In- 
dians for  his  children,  to  Robert  Morris.  After  that,  he  sent 
for  his  daughters  to  come  home,  which  they  did. 

"  Having  disposed  of  the  whole  of  his  property  on  the  Genesee 
River,  he  took  his  two  white  wives  and  their  children,  together 
with  his  effects,  and  removed  to  Delaware  Town,  on  the  River  De 
Trench,  in  Upper  Canada.*  When  he  left  Mount  Morris,  Sally, 
his  squaw,  insisted  upon  going  with  him,  and  actually  followed 
him,  crying  bitterly,  and  praying  for  his  protection,  some  two 
or  three  miles,  till  he  absolutely  bade  her  leave  him,  or  he  would 
punish  her  with  severity.  At  length,  finding  her  case  hopeless, 
she  returned  to  the  Indians. 

"  At  the  great  treaty  in  1797,  one  of  Allen's  daughters 
claimed  the  Mount  Morris  tract  which  her  father  had  sold  to 
Robert  Morris.  The  claim  was  examined,  and  decided  against 
her,  in  favor  of  Morris's  creditors. 

"  He  died  at  the  Delaware  Town,  on  the  River  De  Trench, 
in  the  year  1814  or  1815,  and  left  two  white  widows  and  one 
squaw,  with  a  number  of  children  to  lament  his  loss. 

"  By  his  last  will,  he  gave  all  his  property  to  his  last  wife, 
Morilla,  and  her  children,  without  providing  in  the  least  for  the 
support  of  Lucy  or  any  of  the  other  members  of  his  family. 
Lucy,  soon  after  his  death,  went  with  her  children  down  the 
Ohio  River  to  receive  assistance  from  her  friends. 

"  In  the  Revolutionary  War,  Allen  was  a  Tory,  and  by  that 

*  Governor  Simcoe  granted  him  three  thousand  acres  of  land,  upon  condi- 
tion that  he  would  build  a  sawmill,  a  grist-mill,  and  a  church.  All  but  the  church 
to  be  his  property.  He  performed  his  part  of  the  contract,  and  the  title  to 
his  land  was  confirmed.  In  a  few  years,  he  had  his  mills,  a  comfortable 
dwelling,  large  improvements,  was  a  good  liver,  and  those  who  knew  him  at 
that  period  represent  him  as  hospitable  and  obliging. 


means  became  acquainted  with  our  Indians,  when  they  were  in 
the  neighborhood  of  his  native  place  desolating  the  settlements 
on  the  Susquehanna.  In  those  predatory  battles  he  joined  them, 
and  for  cruelty  was  not  exceeded  by  his  Indian  comrades. 

"  At  one  time,  when  he  was  scouting  with  the  Indians,  he 
entered  a  house  very  early  in  the  morning,  where  he  found  a 
man,  his  wife,  and  one  child,  in  bed.  The  man  instantly  sprang 
on  the  floor,  for  the  purpose  of  defending  himself  and  little 
family :  but  Allen  dispatched  him  at  one  blow.  He  then  cut  off 
his  head,  and  threw  it,  bleeding,  into  the  bed  with  the  terrified 
woman ;  took  the  little  infant  from  its  mother's  breast,  dashed 
its  head  against  the  jamb,  and  left  the  unhappy  widow  and 
mother  to  mourn  alone  over  her  murdered  family.  It  has  been 
said  by  some,  that  after  he  had  killed  the  child  he  opened  the 
fire  and  buried  it  under  the  coals  and  embers ;  but  of  that  I  am 
not  certain.  I  have  often  heard  him  speak  of  that  transaction 
with  a  great  degree  of  sorrow,  and  as  the  foulest  crime  he  had 
ever  committed  —  one  for  which  I  have  no  doubt  he  repented. 

"  About  the  year  1806,  or  1807,  reverses  began  to  overtake 
him.  At  one  period  he  was  arrested  and  tried  for  forgery ;  at 
another,  for  passing  counterfeit  money ;  at  another,  for  larceny. 
He  was  acquitted  of  each  offense  upon  trial.  He  was  obnoxious 
to  many  of  his  white  neighbors,  and  it  is  likely  that  at  least  two 
of  the  charges  against  him  arose  out  of  a  combination  that  was 
promoted  by  personal  enmity.  All  this  brought  on  embar- 
rassments, which  terminated  in  an  almost  entire  loss  of  his  large 
property.  He  died  in  1814." — Turner's  History  of  the 
Holland  Purchase,  pp.  302-3. 

In  the  year  1816,  Micah  Brooks,  of  Bloomfield,  Ontario 
County,  and  his  neighbor,  Jellis  Clute,  began  negotiations  for 
the  purchase  of  Mrs.  Jemison's  land;  and  on  the  23d  of  April, 
1817,  they  bought  the  entire  Gardeau  Reservation  from  her  for 
the  sum  of  three  thousand  dollars,  or  about  seventeen  cents  per 
acre.  As  the  London  Associates  had  paid  Mr.  Morris  twenty- 
seven  cents  per  acre  for  the  unsold  balance  of  the  Phelps  and 
Gorham  lands  more  than  a  quarter  of  a  century  previous,  and 
as  Alexander  Hamilton  had  loaned  eighty  cents  per  acre  on 
one  hundred  thousand  acres  of  the  Morris  Reserve  nearly  twenty 
years  before  the  sale  to  Messrs.  Brooks  and  Clute,  it  will  be  seen 
that  the  price  agreed  to  be  paid  by  them  for  Mrs.  Jemison's 
land   was   not   excessive.     Perhaps   further   investigations    into 



pioneer  history  may  reveal  to  me  some  instance  in  which  the 
Red  Man  got  the  better  of  the  bargain.  If  so  it  shall  not  fail  to 
be  recorded.  Although  deed  of  the  property  was  given  to  the 
purchasers,  and  placed  upon  the  records  of  Genesee  County,  the 
sale  was  annulled,  because  of  the  fact  that  Mrs.  Jemison's  title 
was  defective,  she  not  being  a  natural  born  or  naturalized  citizen, 
and  the  consent  of  the  chiefs  of  the  Seneca  Nation  being  neces- 
sary to  a  legal  transfer.  To  surmount  the  first  part  of  this 
difficulty,  Messrs.  Brooks  and  Clute  procured  the  passage,  on 
April  11,  1817,  of  a  special  act  of  the  Legislature  for  the  relief 
of  Mary  Jemison,  which  authorized  her  to  take,  hold,  and  convey 
real  estate,  by  purchase,  devise,  or  descent,  in  like  manner  as 
any  naturalized  citizen,  and  confirmed  to  her  the  grant  of  the 
Gardeau  Reservation.  The  sale  was  not  concluded  until  the 
lapse  of  about  five  years.  She  says :  "  After  much  delay  and 
vexation  in  ascertaining  what  was  necessary  to  be  done  to  effect 
a  legal  transfer,  and  having  consulted  my  children  and  friends, 
I  agreed  in  the  winter  of  1822-23  with  Messrs.  Brooks  and 
Clute  that  if  they  would  get  the  chiefs  of  our  nation  and  a  United 
States  Commissioner  of  Indian  lands  to  meet  in  Moscow,  Liv- 
ingston County,  N.  Y.,  I  would  sell  to  them  all  my  right  and 
title  to  the  Gardeau  Reservation,  containing  17,927  acres,  with 
the  exception  of  a  tract  for  my  own  benefit  two  miles  long  by  one 
mile  wide,  where  I  should  choose  it,  and  also  reserving  a  lot  I  had 
promised  to  give  to  Thomas  Clute  as  a  recompense  for  his  faithful 
guardianship  over  me  and  my  property  for  a  long  time.  The  ar- 
rangement was  agreed  to  and  the  council  assembled  on  the  third 
day  of  September,  1823,  at  the  place  appointed.  It  consisted  of 
Major  Carroll,  Judge  Howell,  and  Nathaniel  Gorham,  acting 
for  and  in  behalf  of  the  United  States ;  Jasper  Parrish,  Indian 
agent;  Horatio  Jones,  interpreter;  and  a  large  number  of  Sen- 
eca chiefs.  The  bargain  was  assented  to  unanimously,  and  a 
deed  was  executed  and  delivered  by  me  and  upward  of  twenty 
chiefs,  conveying  all  my  right  and  title  to  the  Gardeau  Reserva- 
tion except  the  reservations  before  mentioned,  to  Henry  B.  Gib- 
son, Micah  Brooks,  and  Jellis  Clute,  their  heirs  and  assigns  for- 
ever. The  tract  I  reserved  for  myself  begins  at  the  center  of 
the  Great  Slide,  thence  west  one  mile,  thence  north  two  miles, 
thence  east  about  a  mile  to  the  Genesee  River,  and  thence  south- 
erly, along  the  west  bank  of  the  river,  to  the  place  of  beginning. 
In  consideration,  Messrs.  Gibson,  Brooks,  and  Clute  —  among 


other  things  —  bound  themselves,  their  heirs  and  assigns,  to  pay 
me,  my  heirs  and  successors,  three  hundred  dollars  a  year  for- 

What  the  "  other  things  "  were  that  the  purchasers  bound 
themselves  to  do  I  have  not  been  able  to  ascertain ;  but  in  the 
year  1830  she  sold  her  remaining  two  square  miles  of  land  to 
Messrs.  Gibson  and  Clute,  and,  commuting  her  annuity  for  a 
lump  sum  in  ready  money,  removed  to  the  Buffalo  Creek  reser- 
vation, where  she  purchased  the  Indian  right  of  possession  to  a 
small  piece  of  land  on  which  she  resided  until  her  decease.  In 
this,  the  last  prominent  incident  in  her  career,  she  showed,  as 
she  had  done  a  number  of  times  in  her  earlier  history,  her  thor- 
ough attachment  to  her  adopted  friends  and  their  mode  of  life. 
The  Senecas,  in  1825,  sold  all  their  reservations  on  the  Genesee 
River  and  removed  with  their  families  to  the  Tonawanda,  Buffalo 
Creek,  and  Cattaraugus  reservations,  leaving  Mrs.  Jemison 
alone  among  the  white  people.  This  was  more  than  she  could 
endure,  and  she  accordingly  disposed  of  her  remaining  lands  and 
joined  her  red  brethren  at  Buffalo  Creek.  Misfortune  attended 
her  here.  After  paying  for  the  land  and  cabin  which  she  had 
purchased,  the  remaining  proceeds  of  the  sale  of  her  Genesee 
lands  —  a  sum  barely  sufficient  to  make  her  last  days  comfort- 
able —  were  entrusted  to  a  white  man  who  lost  them  in  unfor- 
tunate speculations.  She  died  in  her  own  house  on  the  19th  day 
of  September,  1833,  aged  about  ninety-one  years.  She  was 
small  in  stature,  had  a  very  white  skin,  golden  yellow  hair,  blue 
eyes,  delicate  hands  and  feet,  and  pleasing,  regular  features. 
She  was,  in  fact,  a  handsome  type  of  Irish  blonde  beauty.  Her 
endurance  was  little  short  of  marvelous.  For  seventy-five  years 
she  performed  daily  such  tasks  as  fall  to  the  lot  of  men  em- 
ployed in  agricultural  labor.  She  planted,  hoed,  and  husked 
her  own  corn,  fed  and  milked  her  own  cows,  and  chopped  her 
own  firewood.  She  slept  upon  skins  without  any  bedstead,  sat 
upon  the  floor  or  on  a  bench  without  a  back,  and  when  she  ate 
held  her  food  on  her  lap  or  in  her  hands  in  Indian  fashion.  Her 
way  of  life  was  thoroughly  that  of  the  people  with  whom  she 
lived  for  more  than  three-quarters  of  a  century. 

The  attempts  that  have  been  made  to  treat  her  as  a  heroine 
and  model  worthy  of  imitation  are  not  well  advised.  She  was  in 
fact,  a  generous,  plucky,  little  Irish  peasant  woman  who  loved 
a  fight  as  dearly  as  any  one  of  her  countrymen  who  ever  trailed 


his  coat  and  flourished  his  shillelah  at  Donnybrook  fair.  When 
past  her  eightieth  year,  and  telling  for  publication  the  story  of 
her  life,  she  extolled  the  good  qualities  of  the  red-handed  fiend, 
her  husband  —  Hiokatoo  —  and  though  admitting  that  his 
atrocities  were  unparalleled,  there  is  no  evidence  that  she  ever 
tried  to  stay  his  hand.  She  aided,  abetted,  sheltered,  and  en- 
couraged the  Bluebeard  desperado,  outlaw,  and  cutthroat  of  the 
Genesee  —  Indian  Allen.  Her  fortitude  and  self-control  were 
Indian  traits,  and  good  ones.  She  was  a  pagan  until  her  ninety- 
first  year.  Her  profession  of  Christianity  after  that  date,  when 
her  faculties  were  dimmed  by  years,  may  be  taken  at  any  valua- 
tion the  reader  chooses  to  put  upon  it.  The  good  missionary 
lady  who  visited  her  in  her  first  and  last  illness,  and  tried  to  ad- 
minister to  her  the  consolations  of  religion,  says  in  her  narra- 
tive: "My  visit  evidently  excited  and  wearied  her,  and  she 
seemed  quite  exhausted,  and  toward  the  last  quite  sleepy ;  which 
warned  me  that  I  ought  to  bring  it  to  a  close." 

Mrs.  Jemison's  remains  were  buried  in  the  graveyard  of  the 
Seneca  Mission  Church  near  Buffalo.  Red  Jacket  was  interred 
but  a  few  feet  from  her  tomb.  It  was  not  their  last  resting 
place.  The  famous  sachem  sleeps  on  the  Cattaraugus  Reserva- 
tion ;*  and  the  White  Woman  sleeps  on  the  banks  of  the  Genesee. 

The  following  account  of  her  removal  and  reinterment  is  taken 
from  the  Buffalo  Courier  of  March  10,  1874 : 


THE     REMAINS     OF     THE     "  WHITE     WOMAN      OF     THE      GENESEE  ' 

The  remains  of  Mary  Jemison,  or  Deh-he-wa-mis,  commonly 

known  as  the  "  White  Woman  of  the  Genesee,"  were  taken  up 

last  week  from  the  old  Mission  burying  ground  at  Red  Jacket, 

near  Buffalo,  where  they  had  been  buried  about  forty  years  ago, 

and  conveyed  to  the  neighborhood  of  her  home  and  life-long 

associations  on  the  Genesee  River.     The  stone  that  had  marked 

her  grave  had  been  nearly  destroyed  by  remorseless  relic  hunters, 

by  whom  it  had  been  broken  and  carried  away  piece  by  piece 

until  but  a  small  portion  of  it  remained  above  the  ground.     It 

was  feared  by  those  interested  in  preserving  whatever  pertained 

to  the  history  of  this  remarkable  character  that  in  a  few  years 

all  trace  of  her  resting  place  would  be  obliterated. 

*  At  a  later  date,  the  remains  of  Red  Jacket  were  removed  to  Buffalo  and 
interred  in  Forest  Lawn  Cemetery,  where  a  stately  shaft  marks  the  spot. 


The  removal  of  the  remains  took  place  under  the  direction 
of  "  Dr.  James  Shongo,"  a  favorite  grandson  of  the  deceased, 
son  of  her  daughter  Polly  by  marriage  with  John  Shongo. 
James  was  born  under  the  "  White  Woman's  "  roof,  and  was  a 
member  of  her  family  during  his  boyhood,  and  was  present  a< 
her  death  and  funeral.  He  also  assisted  in  the  removal  of  hi 
grandmother  to  Buffalo,  at  the  time  she  left  the  Gardeau  Rese 
vation,  a  few  years  prior  to  her  death. 

The  spot  selected  for  the  final  resting  place  of  her  remains  is 
a  high  eminence  on  the  left  bank  of  the  Genesee  River,  overlook- 
ing the  Upper  and  Middle  Falls.  The  point  is  one  commanding 
the  finest  views  of  the  picturesque  scenery  of  Portage  —  includ- 
ing both  the  Upper  and  Middle  Falls  and  railroad  bridge. 
Upon  this  eminence  and  quite  near  to  her  present  grave  is  the 
ancient  Seneca  Council-house,  removed  a  year  or  two  since  from 
Caneadea,  within  which  it  is  believed  Mary  Jemison  rested  for 
the  first  time  after  her  long  and  fatiguing  journey  of  six  hun- 
dred miles  from  Ohio,  during  which  she  carried  her  infant  upon 
her  back.  The  reinterment  took  place  on  Saturday  afternoon 
in  the  presence  of  a  large  concourse  of  people,  some  of  whom 
were  old  citizens  from  the  Reservation  which  she  once  owned, 
who  had  known  her  during  her  life  and  held  her  memory  in 
esteem.  The  remains  were  borne  from  Castile  village  to  the  old 
Council-house,  within  which  appropriate  exercises  were  conducted 
by  Rev.  W.  D.  McKinley  of  Castile.  They  consisted  of  the 
reading  of  selections  from  Scripture,  a  brief  but  very  interesting 
reminiscence  of  the  eventful  life  of  the  subject,  and  prayer. 
From  the  Council-house  the  remains  were  taken  to  the  grave,  a 
few  feet  northerly  of  the  building.  The  following  gentlemen 
officiated  as  pall-bearers : 

George  Wheeler,  D.  W.  Bishop,  Giles  Davis,  Benjamin  Bur- 
lingham,  John  Peter  Kelly,  Isaac  McNair. 

Mary  Jemison's  former  residence  on  the  Gardeau  Flats  is  but 
a  few  miles  from  the  spot  where  her  ashes  now  repose,  and,  stand- 
ing by  her  grave,  the  murmur  of  the  Genesee  may  be  heard 
as  she  heard  it  during  nearly  seventy  years  that  she  lived  upon 
its  banks.  We  are  informed  that  the  grounds  about  her  grave 
are  to  be  enclosed  with  an  iron  fence,  and  that  it  has  already  or 
soon  will  be  conveyed  by  its  present  owner  in  perpetuity  to  the 
State  of  New  York.  It  is  also  in  contemplation  to  erect  a  suit- 
able memorial  within  the  enclosure. 


Imposture  most  securely  lurks  under  the  cloak  of  religion.     Men  are 
most  apt  to  believe  what  they  least  understand. — Montaigne. 

EMIMA  WILKINSON,  a  preacher  and  prophet  of  the 
latter  part  of  the  eighteenth  century,  was  born  in  the 
State  of  Rhode  Island  in  the  year  1751.  Her  parents, 
Jeremiah  and  Amy  Whipple  Wilkinson,  were  of  the  cus- 
tomary poor  but  reputable  class.  Their  family  was  large,  consist- 
ing of  six  sons  and  an  equal  number  of  daughters,  Jemima  being 
the  eighth  child  of  the  marriage.  The  father,  though  not  a  mem- 
ber of  the  Society  of  Friends,  usually  attended  the  meetings  of 
that  sect,  of  which  his  wife  was  a  strict  adherent.  She  was  an 
amiable  and  intelligent  person,  a  devoted  wife  and  affectionate 
mother,  whose  life,  while  spared,  was  given  up  to  the  care  and 
training  of  her  large  family.  She  died  in  giving  birth  to  her 
twelfth  child  —  the  subject  of  this  sketch  being  then  eight  years 
of  age.  The  father  never  remarried,  and  his  numerous  offspring 
received  but  the  simplest  rudiments  of  education,  and  were  taught 
such  branches  of  labor  and  domestic  economy  as  were  common  in 
New  England  farm  houses  in  colonial  times.  By  the  time  Miss 
Jemima  had  reached  an  age  when  she  was  expected  to  assist  in 
household  labor  and  duties  she  began  to  develop  some  of  the 
peculiar  traits  of  character  which  later  in  life  made  her  so  marked 
a  personality.  An  unconquerable  aversion  to  labor,  an  unusual 
cunning  in  shifting  upon  others  the  tasks  assigned  to  her,  an 
imperious  will,  and  a  strong  propensity  to  dictate  and  rule, 
together  with  a  love  for  idleness,  finery,  pomposity,  and 
superiority  were  marked  features  of  her  character  before 
she  had  reached  her  seventeenth  year.  Finding  her  unmanage- 
able at  home,  and  yielding  to  her  solicitations,  her  father  per- 
mitted her  to  go  to  a  neighboring  town  for  the  purpose  of 
learning  the  trade  of  a  tailor,  and  it  would  have  been  well  in 
later  years  for  many  of  her  ruined  dupes  if  she  had  made  her- 
self mistress  of  that  useful  occupation,  and  remained  a  tailor 
instead  of  becoming  a  prophet.     Steady  employment  was  her 



pet  aversion,  and  after  an  apprenticeship  of  a  few  months  she 
was  dismissed  and  sent  back  to  her  father's  house. 

Her  life  for  the  next  few  years  was  uneventful  —  her  con- 
tempt for  industry  and  fondness  for  dress,  excitement,  and 
pleasure  being  its  chief  features.  About  the  year  1774  she 
attended  a  series  of  meetings  held  by  a  sect  styling  themselves 
New-Lights.  They  were  fanatical  zealots,  who  professed  to 
live  continually  under  the  power  and  spirit  of  religion,  and  to 
be  guided  and  illuminated  directly  from  on  high.  Under  their 
ministrations  Jemima  became  serious,  her  airy  gayety  was  ex- 
changed for  sedateness  and  reflection,  and  she  appeared  to  have 
received  a  strong  impression  as  to  the  nature  and  necessity 
of  religion.  She  discarded  all  other  reading  for  the  Bible,  dis- 
continued her  visits  abroad,  and  after  a  time  secluded 
herself  altogether  from  company,  confining  herself  to  her 
own  room  and,  after  a  time,  to  her  bed.  A  physician  called 
by  her  family  was  unable  to  locate  or  trace  any  symptoms  of 
disease,  she  complained  of  no  pain  or  distress,  and  told  him 
plainly  that  she  had  no  occasion  for  his  services.  He  therefore 
gave  it  as  his  opinion  to  her  friends  that  she  was  under  some 
strong  mental  delusion,  the  removal  of  which  could  not  be  effected 
by  medical  treatment.  She  soon  after  confined  herself  alto- 
gether to  her  bed,  became  pale  and  wan,  and  began  to  speak  of 
having  visions  from  heaven  and  of  seeing  celestial  forms  hovering 
about  her.  Her  family,  believing  her  about  to  die,  watched  by  her 
bedside  both  day  and  night  for  many  weary  weeks.  At  length 
this  consummate  actress  played  the  last  scene  in  the  ghastly 
farce  she  had  so  long  been  enacting.  She  lay  pale,  motionless, 
and  apparently  lifeless  during  an  entire  afternoon  and  evening, 
but  those  who  watched  her  closely  saw  that  respiration  was  going 
on,  though  so  softly  as  almost  to  defy  detection.  When  the  clock 
struck  the  hour  of  midnight  she  arose  from  the  bed,  declared  that 
she  had  passed  the  gates  of  death,  and  was  a  new  and  immortal 
being,  risen  from  the  dead,  and  in  a  tone  of  voice  consonant  with 
her  old  imperious  manner  demanded  her  clothing,  in  which 
she  arrayed  herself  and  went  forth  apparently  as  well  as  ever, 
though  pale  and  somewhat  enfeebled  by  her  long  fasting  and 
confinement.  To  her  friends  who  congratulated  her  on  her  re- 
covery she  promptly  and  vehemently  denied  that  she  was  Jemima 
Wilkinson,  and  boldly  asserted  that  she  was  a  new  being,  reani- 
mated by  the  power  and  spirit  of  God,  and  commissioned  from  on 


high  to  save  a  lost  and  dying  world.  She  alluded  to  her  body 
as  the  tabernacle  that  had  formerly  been  inhabited  by  Jemima, 
but  proclaimed  that  it  was  now  immortal  —  that  she  would  live 
and  reign  on  earth  a  thousand  years,  at  the  end  of  which  time 
she  would  be  taken  up  to  heaven  in  a  cloud  of  glory.  Her  first 
public  address  was  delivered  the  Sabbath  after  she  had  risen  from 
the  dead,  or  bed,  as  the  case  may  be.  She  attended  public  wor- 
ship at  the  Meeting  House  in  the  neighborhood,  and,  as  she  no 
doubt  expected  and  wished,  was  an  object  of  much  curiosity  to 
the  assembly,  many  of  whom  had  heard  the  tale  of  her  death  and 
resurrection.  During  the  intermission  between  the  morning 
and  afternoon  services  she  retired  to  the  shade  of  a  tree  at  some 
little  distance  from  the  church  and  was  soon  surrounded  by  the 
entire  congregation.  Here  she  delivered  her  first  public  address. 
Having  for  more  than  a  year  devoted  her  time  to  a  study  of  the 
Bible  and  other  religious  books,  she  displayed  a  knowledge  of 
the  subject  she  was  discussing  which  quite  astonished  her  hearers, 
and  led  some  of  the  more  credulous  among  them  to  believe  that 
her  utterances  were  inspired,  and  from  this  class  the  nucleus  of  a 
sect  was  formed  which  for  nearly  half  a  century  followed  her 
footsteps,  and  were  ruled  and  governed  by  her  with  an  imperious 
and  unquestioned  sway.  She  formulated  no  creed,  but  announced 
herself  as  "  The  Universal  Friend  of  Mankind,  whom  the  mouth  of 
the  Lord  hath  named."  She  did  not  at  first  gather  her  followers 
about  her  and  establish  a  church  and  society,  but  became  for  a 
time  a  sort  of  itinerant ;  her  inordinate  vanity  being  fed  by  the  at- 
tention she  attracted  wherever  her  meetings  were  held.  During  the 
first  year  of  her  ministry  she  visited  and  preached  in  Newport, 
Providence,  New  Bedford,  and  other  towns  in  Rhode  Island,  Mas- 
sachusetts, and  Connecticut.  During  her  stay  in  Newport  she 
attracted  the  attention  of  a  number  of  British  officers  stationed 
there,  to  one  of  whom  she  became  engaged  to  be  married. 

It  was  a  genuine  affair  of  the  heart  on  the  part  of  both,  and 
preparations  were  made  for  a  honeymoon  voyage  to  England, 
but  military  operations  intervened  to  postpone  the  happy  event, 
and  a  bullet  encountered  by  her  lover  put  an  end  to  it. 
Jemima  was  greatly  distressed,  but  with  the  almost  supernatural 
command  over  her  feelings  which  she  possessed,  she  resumed  her 
ministry,  and  thenceforward  denounced  matrimony  as  a  sin 
and  an  abomination  in  the  sight  of  the  Lord,  and  prohibited  it 
amongst  her  followers.     About  the  year  1781  she  proposed  to 


a  number  of  her  confidential  advisers  the  desirability  of  a  tour 
into  the  State  of  Pennsylvania,  the  object  being  to  draw  prose- 
lytes from  the  Quakers,  who  were  numerous  and  wealthy  in 
Philadelphia  and  its  vicinity.  She  represented  to  her  people  that 
she  had  received  a  special  mandate  from  heaven  to  visit  these 
Friends,  who  were  anxiously  awaiting  the  coming  of  the  Lord's 
messenger.  A  generous  subscription  was  made  by  the  faithful 
to  defray  the  expenses  of  the  journey,  which  she  undertook  in 
company  with  four  or  five  of  her  most  devoted  followers.  They 
traveled  leisurely,  and  with  as  much  comfort  as  the  conditions 
of  that  period  afforded.  The  story  of  her  death,  resurrection, 
divine  mission,  power  to  heal  the  sick  and  raise  the  dead  had 
preceded  her,  and  had  lost  nothing  in  the  telling,  and  it  is  not 
surprising  that  her  appearance  in  Philadelphia  produced  a  con- 
siderable degree  of  sensation  and  curiosity,  and  that  crowds 
followed  her  in  the  streets  and  flocked  to  hear  her  in 
such  numbers  that  it  was  with  difficulty  that  any  place 
could  be  obtained  of  sufficient  capacity  to  contain  them. 
After  a  time,  curiosity  regarding  her  began  to  wane.  No 
politician,  however  astute,  could  excel  Jemima  in  detecting  the 
advancing  and  receding  waves  of  popular  excitement,  and  when 
her  audiences  began  to  diminish  she  promptly  had  a  vision  from 
on  high  commanding  her  to  return  to  her  flock  in  Rhode  Island. 
She  remained  with  her  New  England  followers  until  the  summer 
of  1784,  when  she  again  took  her  departure  for  the  State  of 
Pennsylvania,  locating  this  time  in  the  town  of  Worcester,  Mont- 
gomery County,  where  one  of  the  wealthiest  and  most  devoted 
of  her  adherents  resided.  This  gentleman  was  an  extensive 
landed  proprietor,  owning  a  number  of  large  and  fertile  farms  in 
the  vicinity  of  his  residence.  Upon  one  of  these  Jemima  and  the 
retinue  of  personal  disciples  and  attendants  who  composed  her 
household  took  up  their  abode.  Upon  the  pi'emises  were  a  com- 
modious stone  dwelling,  barns,  carriage  house,  and  stables,  with 
all  the  stock  and  utensils  usually  belonging  to  a  prosperous 
farmer.  Of  all  this  the  Universal  Friend  took  possession,  as 
though  she  had  been  its  owner  in  fee.  Nor  did  her  exactions 
stop  here.  Whatever  else  she  coveted  her  infatuated  adherent 
was  weak  enough  to  yield,  until  his  estates  became  encumbered 
and  ruin  began  to  stare  him  in  the  face.  "  The  Lord  hath  need 
of  it,"  was  her  impious  phrase  in  levying  exactions  upon  this 
deluded  man,  and  this  command  seemed  to  him  a  mandate  from 


on  high  that  could  not  be  disregarded.  A  year  or  two  of  ease 
and  comfort  were  passed  by  her  on  the  farm  of  her  disciple  before 
symptoms  of  revolt  and  returning  reason  on  his  part  began  to 
exhibit  themselves.  She  was  quick  to  detect  the  change  and 
prompt  in  discovering  what  she  believed  to  be  the  grounds  for  it. 
She  rightly  attributed  the  decline  of  her  influence  to  the  follow- 
ing causes :  the  increase  of  education,  the  circulation  of  news- 
papers, the  general  spread  of  useful  knowledge,  and  the  fact 
that  in  a  thickly  settled  and  intelligent  community  her  dupes 
were  likely  to  be  influenced  by  their  environments,  and  begin  to 
question,  while  she  wished  them  only  to  believe.  To  counteract 
these  baleful  influences  she  resolved  to  emigrate  with  her 
remaining  followers  to  a  new  and  unpopulated  region,  where 
intelligence  and  doubt  could  never  come  to  arouse  the  minds  and 
unsettle  the  faith  of  her  disciples.  She  had  heard  glowing 
accounts  of  the  Genesee  Country,  or,  as  she  called  it,  the  "  Lake 
Country,"  then  a  continuous  wilderness;  and  thither  she  pro- 
posed to  emigrate  with  her  followers,  believing  in  her  narrow- 
mindedness  that  there  she  could  live  and  reign  a  thousand  years 
undisturbed  by  the  meddlesome  and  caviling  influences  of  civil- 
ization. The  generation  now  inhabiting  the  Lake  Country  may 
be  pardoned  for  irreverently  regarding  the  gift  of  prophecy 
which  consigned  their  fertile  and  beautiful  region  to  a  thousand 
years  of  ignorance  and  solitude.  To  raise  funds  for  her  emigra- 
tion scheme,  Jemima  made  a  third  and  —  as  it  proved  —  a  last 
visit  to  Rhode  Island.  During  her  absence  in  Pennsylvania 
many  of  her  New  England  followers  had  become  lukewarm,  and 
collections  for  the  scheme  came  in  slowly.  Those  who  had  money 
to  give  were  not  at  all  enthusiastic  about  surrendering  good 
homes  and  society,  with  all  the  pleasures  afforded  by  a  highly 
cultivated  country,  for  a  frontier  life,  with  its  privations,  dan- 
gers, and  vicissitudes,  even  though  lands  were  cheap,  and  the 
country  was  described  as  a  veritable  New  Jerusalem,  where  the 
wicked  would  cease  from  troubling  and  the  weary  be  at  rest. 
But  where  there  is  a  will  there  is  a  way,  though  in  this  case  it 
proved  to  be  dishonest  and  dangerous.  One  of  Jemima's  female 
abettors  was  a  resident  in  the  family  of  the  treasurer  of  the  State 
of  Rhode  Island.  "  The  Lord  hath  need  of  money,"  so  these 
worthy  teachers  of  religion  and  morality  abstracted  about  two 
thousand  dollars  from  the  strong  box  of  the  State. 

The   discovery   of   the   robbery   created   great   consternation 


among  Jemima's  followers,  and  she,  fearing  criminal  prosecution 
as  a  participant  in  the  theft,  absconded  in  the  night  in  company 
with  three  or  four  of  her  adherents  and  made  the  best  of  her 
way  again  to  Worcester,  Pa.  Here  she  was  followed  by  an 
officer,  who  arrived  almost  at  the  same  time  with  herself.  He 
boldly  accused  her  of  having  the  purloined  money  in  her  posses- 
sion, and  demanded  its  restoration.  With  the  utmost  hardihood 
and  composure  Jemima  denied  all  knowledge  of  the  missing  funds, 
and  appealed  to  the  great  Searcher  of  Hearts  to  show  her  pur- 
suer the  error  of  his  accusation  and  the  great  wrong  he  was  do- 
ing to  an  upright  and  holy  person.  The  officer,  feeling  sure  she 
had  the  money,  was  not  to  be  thwarted  by  impious  and  hypo- 
critical appeals  of  any  sort.  He  instituted  an  immediate  and 
thorough  search  of  the  house,  under  such  surveillance  as  would 
preclude  any  possibility  of  removing  or  concealing  the  money, 
and  in  one  of  Jemima's  traveling  trunks  found  eight  hundred 
dollars  of  the  missing  funds.  She  denied  all  knowledge  of  the 
money  thus  found,  said  it  had  been  put  in  her  trunk  by  some 
person  unknown  to  her,  and  without  her  privity  or  consent ; 
that  it  was  not  hers,  and  she  knew  not  to  whom  it  belonged,  and 
if  he  claimed  it  he  was  welcome  to  take  it,  which  he  did,  and  re- 
turned to  Rhode  Island  without  finding  trace  of  the  residue. 
The  balance  was  made  good  by  two  or  three  wealthy  persons 
whose  relatives  were  implicated,  and  in  order  to  shield  them  the 
affair  was  allowed  to  drop.  Jemima,  however,  "  fearing  every 
bush  an  officer,"  hastened  her  departure  for  the  land  of  promise, 
where  she  arrived  with  a  number  of  her  followers  in  the  month 
of  April,  1789.  Their  route  was  overland  to  Wilkesbarre,  and 
thence  by  the  Susquehannah  River  to  Elmira,  then  called  New- 
town. Here  this  worthy  saint  and  her  vicegerent,  one  Sarah 
Richards,  undertook  to  cheat  the  boatman  who  had  brought  them 
up  the  river  out  of  a  part  of  the  stipulated  sum  agreed  to  be  paid 
him;  and  upon  being  threatened  with  prosecution  endeavored  to 
suborn  two  young  men  of  their  party  to  swear  that  they  were  to  be 
allowed  twenty  dollars  for  assisting  the  boatman  over  rapids  and 
places  where  the  current  was  swift.  In  order  to  defraud  the 
laborer  of  his  hire,  these  young  men  were  asked  to  commit  per- 
jury, and  were  threatened  with  the  dire  displeasure  of  their 
saintly  mistress  if  they  refused  to  do  so.  In  spite  of  threats 
and  entreaties  the  young  men  declined  to  make  oath  to  a  false- 
hood, and  the  canting  would-be-  swindlers  were  obliged  to  pay  the 


boatman's  honest  demand.  In  a  few  days,  Jemima  found  means 
to  convey  her  followers  and  their  goods  and  chattels  to  a  tract 
of  land  near  Crooked  Lake,  in  the  present  county  of  Yates.  To 
the  new  settlement  she  gave  the  name  of  Jerusalem,  which  is  still 
the  name  of  the  town  in  that  county  in  which  it  is  located.  Al- 
though expecting  to  live  and  reign  in  undisturbed  solitude  with 
her  adherents,  they  had  hardly  provided  themselves  with  shelter 
when  they  found  that  two  enterprising  New  Englanders,  Messrs. 
Phelps  and  Gorham,  claimed  to  be  owners  of  the  land  upon  which 
they  had  settled.  This  was  wholly  unexpected  by  Jemima,  who 
had  relied  upon  wheedling  the  Indians  out  of  the  tract,  and,  by 
persuading  them  that  she  was  an  ambassadress  from  the  Great 
Spirit,  to  secure  such  further  portions  of  their  domain  as  her 
grasping  nature  might  covet.  As  she  had  collected  nearly  one 
hundred  followers  about  her,  and  as  Messrs.  Phelps  and  Gorham 
were  anxious  to  forward  the  settlement  of  the  country,  they  made 
her  a  generous  donation  of  land,  and  gave  to  her  people  such 
easy  terms  and  prices  as  to  satisfy  all  parties. 

Jemima,  in  her  character  of  having  put  off  the  earthly  and 
assumed  the  heavenly,  could  not  be  expected  to  deal  in  real  estate, 
hence  a  deed  of  the  tract  which  she  had  selected  as  her  resting 
place  during  her  mundane  sojourn  was  taken  in  the  name  of  her 
right-hand  maiden  and  coadjutor,  Sarah  Richards.  It  was 
well  selected  as  to  location,  having  in  general  a  southern  and 
eastern  exposure,  was  finely  timbered,  and  was  then,  and  is  still, 
a  most  excellent  quality  of  land  for  agricultural  purposes.  Her 
disciples  purchased  their  lands  in  severalty  —  the  common-stock 
project  was  abandoned,  and  contributions  for  the  support  of  the 
Friend  and  the  retinue  of  personal  adherents  and  servants  who 
composed  her  household  were  freely  made  by  the  faithful.  They 
plowed,  planted,  and  reaped  her  fields,  supplied  her  with  horses, 
cattle,  sheep,  and  other  domestic  animals ;  made  contributions  of 
money,  labor,  and  goods,  and  seemed  only  too  happy  to  neglect 
their  own  affairs  to  attend  to  those  of  the  beloved  Friend.  As 
her  domain  contained  about  fourteen  hundred  acres,  Jemima 
lived  in  greater  ease  and  comfort  than  was  common  to  the  pio- 
neers a  hundred  years  ago.  Her  household  consisted  of  from 
fifteen  to  twenty  persons.  Of  these  only  four  were  admitted  to 
her  personal  intimacy :  Sarah  Richards  and  her  daughter  Eliza, 
and  Rachel  and  Margaret  Malin.  The  rest  were  only  too 
happy  to  do  her  drudgery  indoors  and  out  for  a  mere  subsist- 


ence,  in  order  to  be  near  the  sacred  person  of  the  adored  Friend. 
So  far  as  her  sway  over  her  followers  was  concerned,  Jemima's 
anticipations  in  removing  to  the  Lake  Country  were  for  a  time 
realized.  She  ruled  and  governed  them  with  a  rod  of  iron,  pun- 
ishing with  the  utmost  severity  any  infractions  of  the  discipline 
laid  down  for  their  guidance.  Being  thus  secure  in  her  power 
over  her  own  people,  she  conceived  the  idea  of  converting  the 
Indians  —  thinking  that  success  would  add  greatly  to  her  fame 
as  a  prophet,  and  that  once  established  as  their  spiritual 
guide  she  would  be  able  to  inveigle  them  into  making  her  grants 
of  some  of  their  valuable  lands.  To  further  this  design  she  vis- 
ited Canandaigua  at  a  time  when  the  sachems,  chiefs,  and 
warriors  of  the  Seneca  Nation  were  assembled  there  in  council, 
and  while  they  were  engaged  in  deep  consultation  burst  in  upon 
them  without  previous  notice  or  introduction,  and  began  a  long 
and  vehement  address,  which,  though  intended  to  be  a  prayer, 
turned  out  to  be  a  sort  of  religious  harangue  or  exhortation. 
Indian  councils  are  always  conducted  with  the  utmost  gravity, 
and  the  sachems  were  deeply  offended  at  this  interruption.* 
They  showed  their  impatience  by  frowns,  groans,  and  grimaces. 
When  she  ceased  speaking  she  surveyed  her  audience  attentively 
to  discover  what  effect  she  had  produced,  and  was  much  cha- 
grined to  see  them  at  once  resume  their  deliberations  without 
paying  the  least  attention  to  her  or  her  presence.  She  was  not 
discouraged  by  this  rebuff.  Not  long  after  this  failure,  an 
Indian  treaty  was  held  at  Elmira  which  was  attended  by  a  depu- 
tation of  Oneida  chiefs.  In  passing  through  Seneca  Lake  they 
encamped  for  the  Sabbath  at  Norris  Landing,  in  the  vicinity 
of  Jemima's  settlement.  She  embraced  the  opportunity  of 
preaching  to  them,  and  in  the  course  of  her  sermon  endeavored 
to  persuade  them  that  she  was  Christ,  their  Saviour.  They 
listened  to  her  with  their  usual  gravity  and  attention.  When  she 
had  finished  one  of  the  chiefs  arose  and  delivered  a  short  and 
animated  address  in  his  own  tongue.  When  he  had  concluded 
Jemima  sought  the  interpreter  who  was  with  the  Oneidas,  and 
asked  him  to  explain  what  the  speaker  had  said.  Her  wish  being 
made  known  to  the  chief  who  had  spoken,  he  at  once  promptly 
replied  that  she  was  an  impostor,  for  if  she  were  Jesus  Christ 
she  would  know  what  a  poor  Indian  said  without  being  told.     He 

*  The  Indians  are  good  listeners.     They  consider  it  the  height  of  rudeness  to 
interrupt  anyone  who  is  speaking. 


and  his  party  contemptuously  turned  away  and  took  no  further 
notice  of  her.  To  be  treated  with  contempt  by  savages  before 
her  own  people  was  so  galling  to  Jemima's  pride  that  she  thence- 
forward abandoned  all  attempts  upon  their  morals  and  lands. 

Although  pretending  to  devote  her  life  wholly  to  spiritual 
concerns,  she  was  inordinately  avaricious  and  grasping,  and  was 
constantly  inventing  plans  to  secure  by  gift,  devise,  or  grant  the 
property  of  her  deluded  disciples.  In  the  accomplishment  of  her 
purposes  she  knew  no  law  but  her  own  imperious  will,  and  did 
not  hesitate  to  alter  and  amend  wills,  and  other  legal  instruments 
which  came  into  her  possession,  in  order  to  obtain  property  to 
which  she  had  no  right.  Her  ignorance,  stubbornness,  and  dis- 
honesty kept  her  involved  a  greater  part  of  the  time  during  the 
last  twenty  years  of  her  life  in  a  variety  of  law  suits  which, 
though  not  prosecuted  or  defended  in  her  name,  were  in  reality 
litigated  in  her  sole  interest.  Forgetting  the  adage  about  hav- 
ing a  fool  for  a  client,  she  procured  and  studied  legal  works 
from  which  she  probably  derived  more  litigation  than  law. 
She  did  not  hesitate  for  a  moment  to  tell  her  disciples  what  she  ex- 
pected them  to  swear  to,  asserting  that  they  must  know  that  the 
facts  were  as  the  Friend  stated  them,  that  they  had  the  word  of 
the  Lord  for  their  truth,  and  that  they  need  not  fear  man  who, 
at  the  worst,  could  only  kill  the  body,  while  the  Lord  could  kill 
the  soul.  These  facts  became  so  notorious  that  her  opponents 
would  submit  to  nonsuit  rather  than  try  a  case  upon  which  one 
of  her  people  sat  as  a  juror,  and  in  a  number  of  instances  de- 
cisions were  given  against  her  in  the  teeth  of  the  most  positive 
evidence  on  the  part  of  her  deluded  dupes.  The  arrest  and  con- 
viction of  one  of  them  for  perjury  put  a  stop  for  a  time  to  her  mill 
for  grinding  out  testimony  to  order.  Being  reluctant  to  emplo}7 
professional  men  to  attend  to  her  legal  matters,  and  relying  upon 
the  little  learning  which  is  so  dangerous,  she  in  a  number  of  in- 
stances was  obliged  to  surrender  property  which  the  devisor  fully 
intended  to  convey  to  the  society.  In  one  instance  a  large  and  valu- 
able tract  of  land  devised  to  the  "  Universal  Friend's  Society  "  re- 
verted to  the  giver's  heirs,  because  the  "  Society,"  not  being  a 
body  politic  or  corporate,  was  incapable  of  accepting  the  gift. 

Having  examined  a  few  of  the  worldly  points  of  Jemima's 
character,  let  us  glance  briefly  at  her  spiritual  traits,  with  a 
view  to  ascertaining  whether  she  was  altogether  lovely  in  her 
assumed    role    of    priest    and    prophet.     As    has    been    stated, 


she  claimed  to  have  arisen  from  the  dead,  to  have  put  off  the 
mortal  and  put  on  immortality,  and  to  be  endued  directly  with 
wisdom  and  power  from  on  high.  This,  she  asserted,  rendered 
her  capable  of  reading  the  hearts  and  secret  thoughts  of  man- 
kind, and  of  performing  all  miracles  mentioned  in  the  Bible. 
If  a  scrutiny  of  her  spiritual  methods  shall  reveal  her  as  an 
impious  fraud  and  sham,  not  unwilling  to  commit  crime  in  order 
to  establish  her  character  as  a  foreteller  of  events  and  miracle 
worker,  the  fault  is  hers  alone.  Firstly,  she  had  accomplices. 
Some  of  these  resided  in  her  household  and  formed  what  may  be 
termed  her  cabinet  council.  Others  remained  in  Rhode  Island 
and  Pennsylvania  to  look  after  and  watch  over  her  flock  in  those 
States.  With  these  she  kept  up  a  close  and  voluminous  corre- 
spondence, requring  them  to  report  to  her  fully  whatever  was 
said,  done,  or  contemplated  by  the  faithful.  In  this  way  not 
only  their  acts  but  their  thoughts  and  desires  were  communi- 
cated to  Jemima,  and  when  they  joined  her  in  the  Lake  Country 
it  was  as  easy  as  lying  for  her  to  tell  them  what  they  had  been 
saying  and  doing,  and  what  they  had  been  wishing  and  thinking 
as  well.  Ignorant,  unsuspecting,  and  credulous,  they  attrib- 
uted miraculous  power  and  divination  to  the  person  who  simply 
repeated  to  them  what  had  been  reported  by  her  accomplices. 
Similar  means  were  resorted  to  with  the  followers  by  whom  she 
was  surrounded,  her  cabinet  council  being  very  clever  in 
searching  out  and  reporting  the  wishes,  desires,  and  thoughts 
of  these  deluded  people,  who  were  awestruck  to  hear  the 
Beloved  Friend  announce  to  them  simply  what  they  had  told  her 

As  to  her  ability  to  heal  the  sick,  this  was  on  a  par  with 
her  mind-reading.  When  necessary,  cases  of  extreme  and  ap- 
parently mortal  illness  were  made  to  order,  some  one  of  the 
cabinet  council  or  a  devoted  follower  residing  in  her  household 
enacting  the  role  of  invalid.  Tales  of  healing  that  were  past 
mortal  aid  were  vouched  for  by  her  accomplices,  and  readily  be- 
lieved by  the  rest  of  her  community.  In  visiting  any  of  her 
flock  who  were  really  ill,  she  was  careful  to  note  their  condition 
and  apply  her  miraculous  power  of  healing  only  to  such  young 
and  vigorous  persons  as  were  already  well  advanced  toward 
convalescence.  With  such  she  prayed  fervently,  and  laying  her 
hands  upon  them  promised  them  a  restoration  to  health.  In 
nine  cases  out  of  ten  the  promise  was  fulfilled,  and  the  Divinely 


empowered  Friend  was  given  credit  for  performing  a  miraculous 

Her  attempts  to  raise  the  dead  were,  of  course,  fraudulent. 
The  first  was  made  before  she  left  Rhode  Island.  The  ghastly 
farce  began  with  the  illness  and  sudden  demise  of  one  of  her 
most  devoted  and  best-beloved  adherents.  The  coffin  containing 
the  remains  of  the  deceased  was  placed  in  a  room  where  a  num- 
ber of  the  faithful  were  congregated.  There  were  also  present 
two  or  three  outsiders,  among  them  a  military  officer  who  was 
disposed  to  question  Jemima's  ability  to  restore  the  dead  to  life. 
After  a  long  prayer  in  which  she  earnestly  besought  power  from 
on  high  to  reanimate  the  departed,  she  approached  the  coffin  and 
was  about  to  command  the  dead  to  come  forth,  when  the  officer 
called  a  halt.  He  said,  "  In  order  that  there  may  be  no  mistake 
as  to  the  restoration,  I  wish  to  be  sure  that  the  person  lying  en- 
shrouded here  is  dead,  and  will  run  my  sword  through  the  body 
previous  to  its  being  reanimated."  The  presumed  cadaver  gave 
a  shriek,  and  in  anything  but  sepulchral  language  protested 
against  the  soldier  and  his  weapon.  A  second  attempt  of  this 
kind  was  arranged  to  be  performed  in  the  Lake  Country,  but  the 
young  woman  who  was  to  sicken,  die,  and  be  raised,  after  being 
coached  by  Jemima  for  a  number  of  weeks,  became  frightened 
at  the  shocking  and  ghastly  part  she  was  required  to  enact,  and 
positively  declined  all  further  participation  in  the  impious  fraud. 
She  had  been  shown  by  an  associate  to  whom  she  entrusted  the 
secret  the  infamous  nature  of  the  imposture  to  which  she  was 
a  party,  and  was  persuaded  that  it  would  not  be  improbable  that 
her  Maker,  offended  at  such  horrible  profanation,  should  strike 
her  dead  the  moment  her  pretended  decease  was  announced. 

Jemima  was  now  in  a  quandry.  She  had  long  been  meditating 
this  project,  and  in  preparing  for  carrying  it  out  had  per- 
mitted no  one  to  attend  upon  the  patient  but  herself,  and  was 
beside  herself  with  vexation  at  the  prospect  of  the  miscarriage 
of  a  scheme  that  was  to  establish  on  a  firm  basis  her  God-given 
power  to  raise  the  dead.  But  threats,  entreaties,  and  persua- 
sion were  powerless  to  induce  her  patient  to  continue  the  fraud. 
Jemima,  notwithstanding,  managed  to  turn  the  affair  to  consid- 
erable purpose.  She  extorted  from  the  young  woman  a  promise 
of  absolute  secrecy,  and  induced  her  to  consent  to  be  raised  from 
a  bed  of  mortal  illness  to  perfect  health.  The  faithful  were  ac- 
cordingly assembled  to  witness  the  farce.     Jemima  exhorted  and 


prayed  with  more  than  usual  fervor,  ending  with  a  petition  that 
the  dearly  beloved  and  dying  sister  might  be  made  whole.     The 
door  of  the  sick  room  was  then  thrown  open,  disclosing  a  small 
table  on  which  were  three  lighted  candles.      Between  this  table 
and  the  bed  the  miracle-worker  stood,  surrounded  by  her  cabinet 
council  of  confederates,  who  pretty  effectually  shut  out  from  the 
audience  all  view  of  the  proceedings.     Taking  her  patient  by 
the  hands  she  commanded  her  to  arise,  and  of  course  was  easily 
obeyed.     To  a  question  asked  by  her  healer  she  replied  in  a 
distinct  and  strong  voice,  convincing  the  assembly  that  she  was 
as  well  as  ever.     Jemima  then  gave  thanks  for  the  restoration  of 
this  dearly  beloved  lamb  of  the  flock,  gave  those  assembled  her 
blessing,  and  dismissed  them,  thoroughly  convinced,  and  ready 
to  positively  affirm,  that  they  had  witnessed  a  most  wonderful 
miracle.     The  j^oung  woman  upon  whom  it  was  performed  be- 
came so  shocked,  terrified,  and  disgusted  with  the  blasphemous 
frauds  and  shams  by  whom  she  was  surrounded  that  she  took 
an  early  opportunity  to  abandon  the  society  and  denounce  the 
deception  in  which  she  had  participated.     This  availed  nothing 
so  far  as  the  Friend's  fanatical  dupes  were  concerned,  apostacy 
being  powerless  to  shake  their  faith  in  their  divinely  empowered 
idol.     Before  leaving  Rhode  Island  she  had  attempted  the  feat 
of  walking  on  the  water.     The  brethren  and  sisterhood  of  the 
fraternity  and  a  large  assembly  of  "  the  world,"  as  she  desig- 
nated everyone  outside    of  her  flock,  had  gathered  to  witness  the 
performance.     As   usual,   she   entertained   her   hearers   with   a 
long  exhortation ;  this  time  upon  the  importance  of  faith ;  and 
endeavored  to  persuade  them  that  if  she  failed  to  do  what  they 
had  assembled  to  witness,  it  would  be  owing  to  their  unbelief ;  and 
cited  the  case  of  Peter,  who  had  walked  on  the  water  until  his 
own  and  his  brethren's  faith  departed  from  them,  when  he  began 
to  sink,  but  was  saved  by  the  outstretched  arm  of  the  Master, 
who  cried,  "  O  thou  of  little  faith :  wherefore  didst  thou  doubt  ?  r 
At    the    conclusion    of    her    harangue    she    approached    the 
margin  of  the  river,  but  the  unstable  water  refused  to  sustain 
her   hallowed   person.     Turning  upon   the   spectators    she   up- 
braided and  reproved  them  for  their  lack  of  faith,  denounced 
them  as  an  evil  generation  who  were  seeking  a  sign,  but  unto 
whom  no  sign  should  be  given,  and  dismissed  them,  very  much 
humiliated  and  ashamed  (her  adherents  at  least)  of  having  been 
the  cause  of  the  failure  of  her  aquatic  miracle.     Her  historian 

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asks  to  be  excused  for  dropping  into  slang  and  asserting  that 
Miss  Wilkinson  had  a  gall. 

A  similar  experiment  undertaken  in  "  The  Lake  Country  "  had 
a  better  issue.  Only  her  flock  were  apprised  of  the  attempt,  and 
as  they  were  posted  on  a  hill  more  than  a  quarter  of  a  mile  from 
the  water,  they  were  unable  to  detect  a  staging  two  or  three 
inches  beneath  the  surface  upon  which  their  Messiah 
trod.  By  such  frauds  as  have  been  recounted  the  Universal 
Friend  of  Mankind  sought  to  convince  an  unbelieving  world  of 
the  sanctity  of  her  person  and  the  divinity  of  her  mission.  It 
is  doubtful  whether  these  pretended  miracles  added  half  a  dozen 
to  the  number  of  her  followers.  Those  who  withheld  their  be- 
lief were  denounced  as  the  children  of  wrath,  who  were  on  the 
broad  road  to  perdition. 

Jemima's  prohibition  and  denunciation  of  matrimony  was  an 
afterthought.  In  the  early  part  of  her  ministry  she  was  a 
skillful  matchmaker,  and  succeeded  in  providing  husbands  for  a 
number  of  her  community  who  had  anticipated  wedlock  by  be- 
coming mothers  before  they  were  wives.  After  the  unfortunate 
termination  of  her  own  early  love  affair  she  pretended  to  have 
received  new  light  upon  the  subject  of  marriage,  and  believing 
it  to  be  inconsistent  with  the  character  she  had  assumed,  she  de- 
nounced it  as  a  sin  and  an  abomination  in  the  sight  of  the  Lord, 
which  would  consign  anyone  committing  it  to  eternal  perdition. 
She  was  too  shortsighted  to  discover  that  even  if  she  succeeded 
in  setting  at  naught  the  laws  of  nature  and  restraining  the 
strongest  of  human  passions  she  would  inevitably  have  decreed 
the  dissolution  of  her  society.  She  denied  that  marriage  was  an 
institution  sanctified  by  the  divine  authority,  and  cited  as  many 
texts  in  support  of  her  theory  as  her  successor,  Joseph  Smith, 
Jr.,  could  quote  in  behalf  of  his.  It  is  certain  that  no  end  of 
misery  resulted  from  the  teachings  of  these  two  persons,  who 
would  have  us  believe  they  were  inspired  from  on  high,  the  one 
to  preach  celibacy  and  the  other  polygamy. 

In  cases  where  husband  and  wife  became  members  of  Jemima's 
community  she  laid  down  the  law  of  non-intercourse,  but  it  was 
not  always  strictly  observed.  Some  time  after  the  promulga- 
tion of  her  family  interdict  a  Mrs.  W — ,  who  with  her  husband 
were  influential  and  prominent  members  of  her  community,  gave 
birth  to  a  fine,  healthy  boy.  Jemima  was  highly  incensed,  as 
the  compliance  of  this  couple  with  all  the  requirements  of  her 


religious  system  was  of  the  utmost  importance  in  its  bearing  upon 
the  obedience  of  her  other  followers.     As  soon  as  the  mother's 
health  was  re-established  Jemima  paid  the  husband  and  wife  a 
visit,  and  denounced  in  vigorous  terms  their  criminal  departure 
from  duty,  told  them  they  had  committed  a  heinous  sin,  and  that 
only  by  sincere  repentance  and  future  obedience  could  they  atone 
in  the  sight  of  the  Lord  for  the  crime  of  which  they  had  been 
guilty,  and  in  order  that  a  remembrance  of  their  offense  might  be 
constantly  before  them  she  named  the  child  Lamentation.     The 
poor  mother  protested,  but  the  father  acquiesced,  and  the  child 
was  so  christened.   This,  however,  did  not  prevent  the  birth  about 
three  years  later  of  a  fine  girl.     Armed  with  all  the  terrors  of 
her  wrath  and  indignation  Jemima  again   visited  these  perse- 
vering offenders,  and  delivered  a  stormy  denunciation  of  their 
continued  disobedience.      She  became  violent  and  abusive,  and 
ended  by  declaring  that  the  child  should  be  called  Abomination. 
The  good  mother's  heart  rebelled  at  this  second  attempt  to  stig- 
matize her  innocent  babe,  and  she  gave  vent  to  her  feelings  by 
ordering  Jemima  to  leave  the  house.     The  latter,  finding  she 
had  gone  too  far,  endeavored  to  recall  the  most  galling  of  her 
words,  and  bring  matters  to  an  amicable  understanding,  but  the 
indignant  mother  was  more  than  willing  to  come  to  an  open  rup- 
ture and  plainly  told  the  Friend  she  was  actuated  by  spleen,  envy, 
and  malevolence  in  her  endeavors  to  destroy  the  happiness  of 
married  people,  and  that  her  hostility  to  matrimony  arose  from 
her  own  misconduct  in  early  life,  when  she  bore  an  illegitimate 
child  to  her  lover,  the  British  officer,  and  that  notwithstanding 
all  her  present  pretensions  to  purity  she  was  no  better  than  she 
should  be  regarding  her  acquaintance  with  men,  and  peremp- 
torily ordered  her  to  go  about  her  business  and  never  show  her 
detested  face  in  their  house  again.     The  husband  on  this  occasion 
sustained  his  resolute  helpmeet,  and  as  he  had  been  generous  in 
contributing  when  "  the  Lord  had  need,"  and  had  often  been 
held  up  by  Jemima  as  an  example  of  piety  and  liberality,  she 
smothered  her  resentment,  not   daring  to   denounce   vengeance 
against  him,  or  persevere  in  her  attempts  to  regulate  his  do- 
mestic affairs.      But  this  was  an  almost  solitary  instance  on  her 
part  of  a  relaxation  of  the  laws  laid  down  for  the  government 
of  her  flock.     As  a  rule,  her  will  was  theirs,  she  never  conde- 
scended to  explain  the  reasons  for  actions  nor  would  she  permit 
others  to  do  so.     It  was  her  prerogative  to  give  orders  and 


directions  and  theirs  to  obey  —  which  they  usually  did  without 
a  murmur,  as  they  believed  the  Friend  to  be  more  than  mortal, 
and  invested  with  Divine  authority,  power,  and  wisdom. 

To  sustain  the  character  of  a  prophet,  which  she  had  assumed, 
she  was  —  if  a  contemporary  writer  in  the  Pittsburg  Mercury 
is  to  be  believed  —  not  incapable  of  committing  heinous  crimes. 
Dating  from  Philadelphia,  1819,  he  says:  "Our  next  door 
neighbor,  Mrs.  Sarah  M — ,  became  one  of  her  proselytes,  and 
when  Jemima  took  her  departure  from  our  city  this  infatuated 
lady  forsook  her  husband  and  children  and  accompanied  the 
Friend  to  her  new  settlement.  She  had  not  been  very  long  ab- 
sent from  her  family  before  she  returned,  heartily  disgusted 
with  the  impostor  whom  she  had  followed.  Some  trouble  having 
arisen  between  them,  Jemima,  when  her  adherents  were  gathered 
in  chapel,  rose  from  her  seat  after  a  long  silence,  and  addressing 
Mrs.  M  — ,  proclaimed  in  a  loud  voice,  '  Sarah !  Sarah ! ! 
Sarah!!!  I  have  a  message  from  God  unto  thee!  This  night 
will  thy  soul  be  required  of  thee  ! '  She  then  sat  down.  Not 
another  word  was  uttered,  but  an  indescribable  terror  seized 
upon  the  minds  of  all  present,  they  having  implicit  faith  in 
Jemima  as  a  prophetess.  The  assembly  dispersed  and  the  vic- 
tim of  the  denunciation  went  with  a  palpitating  heart  to  her  bed- 
chamber. A  remarkable  providence  intervened  to  save  her. 
The  house  was  crowded,  and  unknown  to  Jemima  a  domestic 
female  servant  was  obliged  to  occupy  a  part  of  Mrs.  M — 's  bed. 
The  girl,  in  consequence  of  having  a  heavy  ironing  to  do  in  the 
evening,  did  not  retire  until  near  midnight.  Twice  previous  to 
that  hour  Jemima  dressed  in  white,  with  a  veil  over  her  head,  and 
holding  a  lighted  candle  in  each  hand  had  entered  the  room, 
passed  close  to  the  bed,  looked  at  Mrs.  M — ,  and  retired  with- 
out uttering  a  word.  Before  the  hour  of  12  the  girl  came  in  and 
Mrs.  M — ,  moving  to  the  back  of  the  bed,  gave  the  tired  servant 
her  place.  The  girl  was  soon  asleep.  Not  so  her  companion. 
Soon  the  door  opened  again.  This  time  all  was  darkness,  and 
Mrs.  M —  could  not  see  the  object  which  entered,  but  heard  it 
approaching  the  bed.  On  a  sudden  the  girl  began  a  desperate 
struggle  with  an  unseen  foe.  Mrs.  M —  screamed  and  gave  the 
alarm,  shouting  robbers !  murderers ! !  and  a  person  fled  precipi- 
tately from  the  room.  On  being  interrogated  as  to  the  cause  of 
her  struggle  the  girl  replied  that  some  one  had  her  by  the  throat 
and  was  trying  to  strangle  her.     It  need  hardly  be  said  that 


Mrs.  M —  left  the  house  early  next  morning,  giving  the  prophet- 
ess no  further  opportunity  to  fulfill  her  own  prediction." 

During  the  first  twenty  years  of  her  residence  in  the  Genesee 
Country  Jemima  led  a  tolerably  active  life,  taking  carriage  ex- 
ercise in  fine  weather,  and  visiting,  from  time  to  time,  the  mem- 
bers of  her  community;  but  as  age  crept  on  she  grew  stout  and 
lethargic,  and  during  the  last  ten  years  of  her  life  she  confined 
herself  to  her  house,  and  mainly  to  her  own  room,  seldom  crossing 
its  threshold  even  when  preaching  to  her  people.  This  sedentary 
existence  impaired  her  health,  but  as  she  claimed  to  have  put  off 
the  mortal,  and  as  her  adherents  thoroughly  believed  she  would 
never  again  taste  death,  but  little  attention  was  paid  to  her  ail- 
ments and  evidently  declining  strength.  It  would  have  been 
inconsistent  with  the  character  she  had  assumed  to  have  called 
a  physician,  and  she  endured  during  the  last  year  or  two  of  her 
life  all  the  suffering  incident  to  a  dreadful  complaint  —  the 
dropsy  —  with  a  fortitude  and  uncomplaining  composure  which 
half  redeem  the  many  other  faults  of  her  character.  She 
seemed  more  anxious  to  perpetuate  a  belief  in  her  divinity  than 
to  prolong  or  render  comfortable  her  existence.  And  this  she 
succeeded  in  doing.  It  would  have  been  easier  to  persuade  her 
infatuated  flock  that  the  great  globe  itself  was  about  to  dissolve 
than  that  the  life  of  their  divine  Idol  was  drawing  to  a  close. 
When  asked,  as  they  often  were,  "  How  does  the  Friend  ?  "  they 
admitted  that  "  the  tabernacle  which  she  inhabited  "  was  frail 
and  disordered,  but  denied  that  her  life  was  endangered,  and  be- 
came angry  and  impatient  whenever  the  possibility  of  her  decease 
was  mentioned. 

But  Jemima  knew  well  that  the  supreme  hour  was  approach- 
ing. The  day  preceding  her  death  she  said  to  those  about  her 
that  she  "  must  soon  leave  them."  Towards  evening  she  began 
to  sink  rapidly,  and  again  said,  "  My  friends,  I  must  soon  de- 
part. I  am  going  —  this  night  I  leave  ye."  She  passed  away 
on  the  morning  of  Thursday,  July  1,  1819,  in  the  sixty-eighth 
year  of  her  age.  A  few  of  the  more  intelligent  of  her  adherents 
admitted  the  "  departure  of  the  Friend,"  but  the  majority  of 
them  could  not,  and  did  not,  believe  that  she  was  dead,  but  zeal- 
ously declared  that  she  would  live  to  see  all  the  wicked  cut  off 
from  the  earth.  Those  living  at  a  distance,  upon  hearing  the 
report  of  her  decease,  started  at  once  to  visit  the  "  Beloved  "  and 
inform    her    of    the    false    rumor    that    the    unregenerate    had 


spread  abroad  concerning  her.  Confronted  with  the  dread  re- 
ality, they  seemed  lost  in  a  maze  of  astonishment,  doubt,  and 
fear.  Her  cabinet  council  —  knowing  that  it  was  necessary  in 
order  to  perpetuate  the  system  established  by  their  mistress  — 
to  allay  the  doubts  of  their  fellow  worshipers,  informed  them 
that  the  departure  of  the  beloved  Friend  was  but  temporary, 
that  she  would  reappear  and  secure  their  eternal  happiness 
provided  they  continued  firm  in  the  faith  unto  the  end.  Be- 
lieving she  would  rise  again,  her  remains  were  kept  until  the 
evening  of  the  fourth  day  after  her  "  departure,"  and  were  then 
taken  away  by  her  household  council,  and  no  man  knoweth  the 
place  of  her  sepulchre  unto  this  day.  There  was  no  funeral  and 
no  burial,  and  those  of  her  neighbors  not  members  of  her  flock, 
who  came  to  pay  the  last  tribute  of  their  respect,  were  received 
with  gloomy  silence  except  when  questions  were  asked,  and  these 
were  answered  in  a  manner  which  showed  they  were  considered 
inquisitive  and  offensive. 

I  shall  attempt  no  summary  of  the  character  of  the  remarkable 
woman  whose  career  has  been  so  summarily  recounted,  but  will 
quote  a  contemporary  sketch  by  the  Duke  de  la  Rochefoucauld 
Liancourt,  who  traveled  extensively  in  this  country  a  hundred 
years  ago.     He  says : 

"  We  saw  Jemima  and  attended  her  meeting,  which  is  held  in 
her  own  house.  We  found  there  about  thirty  persons,  men, 
women,  and  children.  Jemima  stood  at  the  door  of  her  bed- 
chamber, on  a  carpet,  with  an  arm  chair  behind  her.  She  had 
on  a  white  morning  gown  and  waistcoat,  such  as  men  wear,  and  a 
petticoat  of  the  same  color.  Her  black  hair  was  cut  short,  care- 
fully combed,  and  divided  behind  into  three  ringlets ;  she  wore  a 
stock  and  white  silk  cravat,  which  was  tied  about  her  neck  with 
affected  negligence.  In  point  of  delivery  she  preached  with  more 
ease  than  any  other  Quaker  I  have  yet  heard;  but  the  sub- 
ject matter  of  her  discourse  was  an  eternal  repetition  of  the  same 
topics  —  death,  sin,  and  repentance.  She  is  said  to  be  about 
forty  years  of  age,  but  she  did  not  appear  to  be  more  than  thirty. 
She  is  of  a  middle  stature,  well  made,  of  florid  countenance,  and 
has  fine  teeth,  and  beautiful  eyes.  Her  action  is  studied;  she 
aims  at  simplicity,  but  is  somewhat  pedantic  in  her  manner. 
In  her  chamber  we  found  her  friend,  Rachel  Malin,  a  young 
woman  about  twenty-eight  or  thirty  years  of  age,  her  follower 
and  admirer,  who  is  entirely  devoted  to  her.     All  the  land  which 


Jemima  possesses  is  purchased  in  the  name  of  Rachel  Malin, 
an  advantage  she  owes  to  her  influence  over  her  adherents,  and 
to  her  dexterity  in  captivating  their  affections.  Jemima,  or 
the  Friend,  as  she  is  called  by  way  of  eminence,  inculcates,  as 
her  leading  tenet,  poverty  and  resignation  of  all  earthly  pos- 
sessions. If  you  talk  to  her  of  her  house,  she  always  calls  it 
'  the  house  which  I  inhabit.'  This  house,  however,  though 
built  only  of  the  trunks  of  trees,  is  extremely  pretty  and  com- 
modious. Her  room  is  exquisitely  neat,  and  resembles  more 
the  boudoir  of  a  fine  lady  than  the  cell  of  a  nun.  It  contains  a 
looking  glass,  a  clock,  and  an  armchair,  a  good  bed,  a  warming 
pan,  and  a  silver  saucer.  Her  garden  is  kept  in  good  order ; 
her  spring  house  is  full  of  milk,  cheese,  butter,  butcher's  meat, 
and  game.  Her  hypocrisy  may  be  traced  in  all  her  discourses, 
actions,  and  conduct,  and  even  in  the  very  manner  in  which  she 
manages  her  countenance.  She  seldom  speaks  without  quoting 
the  Bible,  or  introducing  a  serious  sentence  about  death,  and  the 
necessity  of  making  our  peace  with  God.  Whatever  does  not  be- 
long to  her  own  sect  is  with  her  an  object  of  distaste  and  steadfast 
aversion.  She  sows  dissensions  in  families,  to  deprive  the  law- 
ful heir  of  his  right  of  inheritance,  in  order  to  appropriate  it  to 
herself;  and  all  this  she  does  under  the  name  and  agency  of  her 
companion,  who  receives  all  presents  brought  by  the  faithful,  and 
preserves  them  for  her  reverend  friend,  who,  being  wholly  ab- 
sorbed in  her  communion  with  Christ,  whose  prophetess  she  is, 
would  absolutely  forget  the  supply  of  her  bodily  wants  if  she 
were  not  well  taken  care  of.  The  number  of  her  votaries  has, 
of  late,  much  decreased.  Many  of  the  families  who  followed 
her  to  Jerusalem  are  no  longer  the  dupes  of  her  self-interested 
policy.  Some  still  keep  up  the  outward  appearance  of  at- 
tachment to  her;  while  others  have  openly  disclaimed  their  con- 
nection with  Jemima.  Such,  however,  as  still  continue  her  ad- 
herents appear  to  be  entirely  devoted  to  her.  With  these  she 
passes  for  a  prophetess,  an  indescribable  being;  she  is  not 
Jemima  Wilkinson,  but  a  spirit  of  a  peculiar  name,  which  re- 
mains a  profound  secret  to  all  who  are  not  true  believers ;  she 
is  the  Friend,  the  All-Friend.  Six  or  seven  girls  of  different  ages, 
but  all  young  and  handsome,  wait  upon  her  with  surprising 
emulation,  to  enjoy  the  peculiar  satisfaction  of  being  permitted 
to  approach  this  celestial  being.  Her  fields  and  her  garden  are 
plowed  and  dug  by  the  Friends,  who  neglect  their  own  business 


to  take  care  of  hers ;  and  the  All-Friend  is  so  condescending  as 
not  to  refuse  their  services ;  she  comforts  them  with  a  kind  word 
now  and  then,  makes  inquiries  after,  and  provides  for,  their 
health  and  welfare,  and  has  the  art  of  effectually  captivating 
their  affections,  the  more,  perhaps,  because  she  knows  how  to  keep 
her  votaries  at  a  respectful  distance.  When  the  service  was 
over,  Jemima  invited  us  to  dinner.  The  hope  of  watching  her 
more  narrowly  induced  us  to  accept  the  invitation ;  but  we  did  not 
then  know  that  it  forms  a  part  of  the  character  she  acts  never 
to  eat  with  anyone.  She  soon  left  us ;  and  locking  herself  up 
with  her  female  friend,  sat  down  without  other  company  to  an 
excellent  dinner;  we  did  not  get  ours  till  after  she  had  dined. 
When  our  dinner  was  over,  and  also  another,  which  was  served 
up  after  ours,  the  sanctuary  was  opened  again.  And  now  Jemima 
appeared  once  more  at  the  door  of  her  room,  and  conversed  with 
us  seated  in  an  arm  chair.  When  strangers  are  with  her,  she 
never  comes  over  the  threshold  of  her  bedroom ;  and  when  by  her- 
self, she  is  constantly  engaged  in  deliberation  how  to  improve  the 
demesne  of  her  friend.  The  house  was,  this  day,  very  full. 
Our  company  consisted  of  exactly  ten  persons ;  after  us,  dined 
another  company  of  the  same  number;  and  as  many  more  dined 
in  the  kitchen.  Our  plates,  as  well  as  the  table  linen,  were  per- 
fectly clean  and  neat ;  our  repast,  although  frugal,  was  yet  bet- 
ter in  quality  than  any  cf  which  we  had  partaken  since  we  had  left 
Philadelphia ;  it  consisted  of  good  fresh  meat,  with  pudding,  an 
excellent  salad,  and  a  beverage  of  peculiar,  yet  charming,  flavor, 
with  which  we  were  plentifully  supplied  out  of  Jemima's  apart- 
ment, where  it  was  prepared.  The  devout  guests  observed,  all 
this  while,  a  profound  silence;  they  either  cast  down  their  eyes 
or  lifted  them  up  to  heaven  with  a  rapturous  sigh ;  to  me  they 
appeared  not  unlike  a  party  of  the  faithful,  in  the  primitive 
ages,  dining  in  a  church.  The  All-Friend  had  by  this  time  ex- 
changed her  former  dress  for  that  of  a  fine  Indian  lady,  which 
however,  was  cut  out  in  the  same  fashion  as  the  former.  Her 
hair  and  eyebrows  had  again  been  combed.  She  did  not  utter 
a  syllable  respecting  our  dinner ;  nor  did  she  offer  to  make  any 
apology  for  her  absence.  Constantly  engaged  in  personating 
the  part  she  had  assumed,  she  descanted  in  a  sanctimonious, 
mystic  tone,  on  death,  and  on  the  happiness  of  having  been  an 
useful  instrument  to  others  in  the  way  of  their  salvation.  She 
afterwards  gave  us  a  rhapsody  of  prophecies  to  read,  ascribed 


to  one  Dr.  Love,  who  was  beheaded  in  Cromwell's  time;  wherein 
she  clearly  discerned,  according  to  her  accounts,  the  French 
Revolution,  the  decline  and  downfall  of  popery,  and  the  impend- 
ing end  of  the  world.  Finding,  however,  that  this  conversation 
was  but  ill  adapted  to  engage  our  attention  she  cut  short  her  har- 
angue at  once. 

"  We  had,  indeed,  already  seen  more  than  enough  to  estimate 
the  character  of  this  bad  actress,  whose  pretended  sanctity  only 
inspired  us  with  contempt  and  disgust,  and  who  is  altogether 
incapable  of  imposing  upon  any  person  of  common  understand- 
ing, unless  those  of  the  most  simple  minds,  or  downright  en- 
thusiasts.    Her   speeches   are  so   strongly   contradicted  by   the 
tenor  of  her  actions ;  her  whole  conduct ;  her  expense  compared 
to  that  of  other  families  within  a  circumference  of  fifty  miles ; 
her  way  of  living,  and  her  dress,  form  such  a  striking  contrast 
with  her  harangues  on  the  subject  of  condemning  earthly  en- 
joyments; and  the  extreme  assiduity  with  which  she  is  contin- 
ually endeavoring  to  induce  children,  over  whom  she  has  any 
influence,  to  leave  their  parents  and  form  a  part  of  her  com- 
munity ;  all  those  particulars  so  strongly  militate  against  the 
doctrine  of  peace  and  universal  love,  which  she  is  incessantly 
preaching,  that  we  were  all  actually  struck  with  abhorrence  at 
her  duplicity  and  hypocrisy,  as  soon  as  the  first  emotions  of  our 
curiosity  subsided.     Her  fraudulent  conduct,  indeed,  has  been 
discovered  by   so  many   persons,   and   so   much  has   been   said 
against  it,  that  it  is  difficult  to  account  for  her  having  any  ad- 
herents at  all,  even  for  a  short  time.     And  yet  she  will  probably 
retain   a   sufficient  number  to  increase  still  further  a   fortune 
which  is  already  considerable  for  the  country  in  which  she  re- 
sides, and  fully  adequate  to  the  only  end  which  she  now  seems 
anxious  to  attain  —  namely,  to  live  independent,  in  a  decent,  plen- 
tiful, and  even  elegant  manner.     There  are  so  many  weak-minded 
religionists,  and  Jemima  is  so  particularly  careful  to  select  her 
disciples  among  persons  who  are  either  very  old  or  very  young, 
that  her  imposture,  however  gross  and  palpable  to  the  discern- 
ing,  may  yet  be  carried  on  for  some  time  with   success   suf- 
ficient to  answer  her  ultimate  purpose.     If  her  credit  should  sink 
too  low,  she  would  find  herself  constrained  to  transplant  her 
holiness  to  some  other  region ;  and,  in  fact,  she  had  last  year 
harbored  the  design  of  removing  her  family  and  establishment, 
and  of  settling  on  Carlton  Island,  in  the  Lake  of  Ontario,  where 


she  would  enjoy  the  satisfaction  of  living  under  the  English 
Government,  which,  by  her  account,  has  offered  her  a  grant  of 

If  comment  were  in  order  it  might  be  said  that  deference 
to  the  sex  and  the  universal  law  which  forbids  criticism  of  ac- 
cepted hospitality  should  have  softened  the  duke's  account  of 
his  visit  to  the  Friend,  though  it  must  be  admitted  that  if  he 
was  to  publish  his  impressions  at  all  they  should  have  been  his 
real  ones,  unvarnished  by  sentiment  of  any  kind. 

Another  contemporary  account,  taken  from  manuscript  left 
by  the  late  Thomas  Morris,  is  submitted  as  corroborative  of 
what  has  preceded.  He  certainly  was  not  a  man  whose  inclina- 
tions would  lead  him  to  "  set  down  aught  in  malice  "  against  any 
one.     He  says : 

"  Prior  to  my  having  settled  at  Canandaigua,  Jemima 
Wilkinson  and  her  followers  had  established  themselves  on  a 
tract  of  land,  purchased  by  them,  and  called  the  Friend's  set- 
tlement. Her  disciples  were  a  very  orderly,  sober,  industrious, 
and,  some  of  them,  a  well-educated  and  intelligent  set  of  people ; 
and  many  of  them  possessed  of  handsome  properties.  She  called 
herself  the  Universal  Friend,  and  would  not  permit  herself  to  be 
designated  by  any  other  appellation.  She  pretended  to  have 
had  revelations  from  heaven,  in  which  she  had  been  directed  to 
devote  her  labors  to  the  conversion  of  sinners.  Her  disciples 
placed  the  most  unbounded  confidence  in  her  and  yielded  in  all 
things  the  most  implicit  obedience  to  her  mandates.  She  would 
punish  those  among  them  who  were  guilty  of  the  slightest  devi- 
ation from  her  orders ;  in  some  instances,  she  would  order  the 
offending  culprit  to  wear  a  cow  bell  round  his  neck  for  weeks, 
or  months,  according  to  the  nature  of  the  offense,  and  in  no 
instance  was  she  known  to  have  been  disobeyed.  For  some  of- 
fense, committed  by  one  of  her  people,  she  banished  him  to 
Nova  Scotia,  for  three  years,  where  he  went,  and  from  whence 
he  returned  only  after  the  expiration  of  his  sentence.  When 
any  of  her  people  killed  a  calf  or  sheep,  or  purchased  an  article 
of  dress,  the  Friend  was  asked  what  portion  of  it  she  would  have, 
and  the  answer  would  sometimes  be,  that  the  Lord  hath  need  of 
the  one-half,  and  sometimes,  that  the  Lord  hath  need  of  the 
whole.  Her  house,  her  grounds,  and  her  farms,  were  kept  in 
the  neatest  order  by  her  followers,  who,  of  course,  labored  for 
her  without   compensation.     She  was   attended  by  two  young 


women,  always  neatly  dressed.  Those  who  acted  in  that  ca- 
pacity, and  enjo3red  the  most  of  her  favored  confidence,  at  the 
time  I  was  there,  were  named  Sarah  Richards  and  Rachel  Malin. 
Jemima  prohibited  her  followers  from  marrying ;  and  even  those 
who  had  joined  her  after  having  been  united  in  wedlock  were  made 
to  separate  and  live  apart  from  each  other.  This  was  attributed 
to  her  desire  to  inherit  the  property  of  those  who  died. 

"  Having  discovered  that  bequests  to  the  Universal  Friend 
would  be  invalid,  and  not  recognizing  the  name  of  Jemima 
Wilkinson,  she  caused  devises  to  be  made  by  the  dying  to  Sarah 
Richards,  in  the  first  instance.  Sarah  Richards,  however,  died, 
and  her  heir-at-law  claimed  the  property  thus  bequeathed ;  litiga- 
tion ensued,  and  after  the  controversy  had  gone  from  court  to 
court,  it  was  finally  decided  in  Jemima's  favor,  it  appearing  that 
Sarah  Richards  had  held  the  property  in  trust  for  her.  After 
the  death  of  Sarah  Richards,  devises  were  made  in  favor  of 
Rachel  Malin ;  but  Rachel  took  it  into  her  head  to  marry,  and 
her  husband  claimed,  in  behalf  of  his  wife,  the  property  thus 
devised  to  her.  Among  Jemima's  followers  was  an  artful,  cun- 
ning, and  intelligent  man,  by  the  name  of  Elijah  Parker;  she 
dubbed  him  a  prophet,  and  called  him  the  Prophet  Elijah.  He 
would,  before  prophesying,  wear  around  the  lower  part  of  his 
waist,  a  bandage  or  girdle,  tied  very  tight,  and  when  it  had 
caused  the  upper  part  of  his  stomach  to  swell,  he  would  pretend 
to  be  filled  with  the  prophetic  visions  which  he  would  impart  to 
the  community.  But  after  some  time,  Jemima  and  her  Prophet 
quarreled,  and  he  then  denounced  her  as  an  impostor,  declared 
that  she  had  imposed  on  his  credulity,  and  that  he  had  never  been 
a  prophet.  After  having  divested  himself  of  his  prophetic 
character  he  became  a  justice  of  the  peace,  and  in  that  capacity 
issued  a  warrant  against  Jemima,  charging  her  with  blasphemy. 
She  was  accordingly  brought  to  Canandaigua,  by  virtue  of  this 
warrant,  and  at  a  circuit  court  held  there  in  1796,  by  the  late 
Governor  Lewis,  judge  of  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  State, 
a  bill  of  indictment,  prepared  by  Judge  Howell,  of  Canandaigua, 
then  district  attorney,  was  laid  before  the  grand  jury.  Judge 
Lewis  having  told  the  grand  jury,  that  by  the  laws  and  con- 
stitution of  this  State  blasphemy  was  not  an  indictable  offense, 
no  bill  was  found.  Judge  Howell  has  informed  me  that  a  similar 
question  having  been  brought  before  a  full  bench  of  the  Supreme 
Court,  that  Judge  Lewis'  opinion  was  overruled  by  all  the  other 


judges,  and  that  blasphemy  was  decided  to  be  an  indictable  of- 
fense. These  litigations,  however,  had  considerably  lessened  the 
number  of  her  followers,  but  she,  as  I  am  informed,  retained  until 
her  death  her  influence  over  a  considerable  portion  of  them. 

"  Prior  to  these  occurrences,  Jemima  had  been  attacked  with 
a  violent  disease,  and  she  expected  to  die.  Under  this  conviction, 
she  caused  her  disciples  to  be  assembled  in  her  sick  chamber, 
when  she  told  them  that  her  Heavenly  Father,  finding  that  the 
wickedness  of  the  world  was  so  great  that  there  was  no  pros- 
pect of  her  succeeding  in  reclaiming  it,  had  determined  that  she 
should  soon  quit  it,  and  rejoin  Him  in  heaven.  Having  unex- 
pectedly recovered,  she  again  assembled  them,  when  she  an- 
nounced to  them  that  her  Heavenly  Father  had  again  commanded 
her  to  remain  on  earth  and  make  one  more  trial. 

"  When  I  first  saw  Jemima,  she  was  a  fine  looking  woman, 
of  good  height ;  and,  though  not  corpulent,  inclined  to  embon- 
point. Her  hair  was  jet  black,  short,  curled  on  her  shoulders; 
she  had  fine  eyes  and  good  teeth  and  complexion.  Her  dress  con- 
sisted of  a  silk  purple  robe,  open  in  front ;  her  underdress  was  of 
the  finest  white  cambric  or  muslin.  Round  her  throat  she  wore 
a  large  cravat,  brodered  with  fine  lace.  She  was  very  ignorant, 
but  possessed  an  uncommon  memory ;  though  she  could  neither 
read  nor  write,  it  was  said  that  she  knew  the  Bible  by  heart, 
from  its  having  been  read  to  her.  The  sermon  I  heard  her 
preach  was  bad  in  point  of  language,  and  almost  unintelligible ; 
aware  of  her  deficiencies  in  this  respect,  she  caused  one  of  her 
followers  to  tell  me,  that  in  her  discourses  she  did  not  aim  at 
expressing  herself  in  fine  language,  preferring  to  adapt  her 
style  to  the  capacity  of  the  most  illiterate  of  her  hearers." 

I  am  inclined  to  think  Mr.  Morris  mistaken  as  to  Jemima's 
inability  to  read.  The  evidence  is  almost  conclusive  that  she 
had  not  only  read  the  Bible  and  other  religious  works  but  law 
books  as  well.  That  she  did  not  wield  the  pen  of  a  ready  writer 
is  evidenced  by  the  fact  that  her  X  mark  was  affixed  to  her  last 
will  and  testament. 

In  the  year  1750,  a  contemporary  of  Jemima  —  Joanna 
Southcott  —  was  born  in  Devonshire,  England.  Like  her 
American  prototype,  she  was  of  humble  birth,  illiterate,  and  in 
early  life  had  joined  the  Methodists  —  a  sect  then  regarded  by 
Church  of  England  people  as  religious  zealots  and  fanatics. 
Becoming  acquainted  with  a  man  by  the  name  of  Sanderson, 


who  claimed  to  be  endued  with  the  spirit  of  prophecy,  Joanna 
made  like  pretensions  herself.  She  gave  forth  that  she  was  the 
woman  driven  into  the  wilderness  mentioned  in  the  Book  of 
Revelations,  and  though  very  illiterate,  wrote  many  letters,  pam- 
phlets, and  predictions  in  prose  and  verse.  She  also  issued 
papers  which  she  called  her  seals,  which,  she  assured  her  fol- 
lowers, would  protect  them  from  the  judgments  of  God  here 
and  hereafter,  and  be  the  means  of  their  eternal  salvation. 
Thousands  of  both  sexes  —  amongst  whom  were  many  persons 
of  good  education  and  respectable  position  —  received  these 
seals  with  implicit  confidence.  When  she  had  passed  the  age  of 
sixty  she  imagined  she  was  to  give  birth  to  a  new  Prince  of  Peace, 
and  her  followers,  having  the  utmost  faith  in  the  announcement, 
prepared  a  handsome  cradle,  and  made  other  expensive  arrange- 
ments befitting  so  great  an  event.  Joanna,  however,  simply  had 
the  dropsy,  a  disease  which  carried  her  off  in  1814,  as  it  did 
the  American  prophet  a  few  years  later.  The  similarity  of  their 
methods  for  raising  the  wind  is  amusing.  Joanna  writes  to  one 
of  her  adherents  as  follows :  "  I  am  the  Lord  thy  God !  Tell 
M —  to  pay  thee  five  pounds  for  thy  expenses  in  coming  up  to 
London ;  and  he  must  give  thee  twenty  pounds  to  relieve  the  per- 
plexity of  thy  handmaid  and  thee,  that  thy  thoughts  may  be 
free  to  serve  me,  the  Lord,  in  the  care  of  my  Shiloh." 

There  is  nothing  so  marvelous  about  these  two  women  as  the 
influence  they  exercised  over  the  minds  of  their  followers,  many 
of  whom  —  especially  as  regards  Joanna  —  were  people  of  in- 
telligence and  cultivated  minds.     What  Macaulay  says  of  her 
may  well  apply  to  both :     "  We  have  seen  an  old  woman  with  no 
ability  beyond  the  cunning  of  a  fortune-teller,  and  with  the  edu- 
cation of  a  scullion,  surrounded  by  devoted  followers,  many  of 
whom  were  in  station  and  knowledge  immeasurably  her  superiors  ; 
and  all  this  in  the  nineteenth  century  and  in  London.     Yet  why 
not?     For  the  dealings  of  God  with  man  have  no  more  been  re- 
vealed to  the  nineteenth  century  than  to  the  first,  or  to  London 
than  to  the  wildest  parish  in  the  Hebrides." 
"  The  last  Will  and  Testament  of  the  person  called  the  Uni- 
versal Friend,  of  Jerusalem,  in  the  county  of  Ontario,  and 
State  of  New  York  —  who  in  the  year  one  thousand  seven 
hundred  and  seventy-six,  was  called  Jemima  Wilkinson,  and 
ever  since  that  time  the  Universal  Friend,  a  new  name  which 
the  mouth  of  the  Lord  hath  named. 



Considering  the  uncertainty  of  this  mortal  life,  and  being 
of  sound  mind  and  memory,  blessed  be  the  Lord  of  Sabaoth  and 
Father  of  Mercies  therefor  —  I  do  make  and  publish  this  my  last 
Will  and  Testament  — 

"  I.  My  Will  is,  that  all  my  just  debts  be  paid  by  my  Execu- 
tors, hereafter  named. 

"  II.  I  give,  bequeath  and  devise  unto  Rachel  Malin  and 
Margaret  Malin,  now  of  said  Jerusalem,  all  my  earthly  prop- 
erty, both  real  and  personal :  that  is  to  say,  all  my  land  lying  in 
said  Jerusalem  and  in  Benton,  or  elsewhere  in  the  county  of 
Ontario,  together  with  all  the  buildings  thereon,  to  them,  the 
said  Rachel  and  Margaret,  and  their  heirs  and  assigns  forever, 
to  be  equally  and  amicably  shared  between  them,  the  said  Rachel 
and  Margaret.  And  I  do  also  give  and  bequeath  to  the  said 
Rachel  and  Margaret  Malin,  all  my  wearing  apparel,  all  my 
household  furniture,  and  all  my  horses,  cattle,  sheep,  and  swine, 
of  every  kind  and  description,  and  also  all  my  carriages,  wagons, 
and  carts,  of  every  kind,  together  with  all  my  farming  tools 
and  utensils,  and  all  my  movable  property,  of  every  nature  and 
description  whatever. 

"  III.  My  Will  is,  that  all  the  present  members  of  my  family, 
and  each  of  them,  be  employed,  if  they  please,  and  if  employed, 
supported  during  natural  life,  by  the  said  Rachel  and  Mar- 
garet, and  when  any  of  them  become  unable  to  help  themselves, 
they  are  according  to  such  inability,  kindly  to  be  taken  care  of 
by  the  said  Rachel  and  Margaret.  And  my  will  also  is,  that 
all  poor  persons  belonging  to  the  Society  of  Universal  Friends 
shall  receive  from  the  said  Rachel  and  Margaret  such  assistance, 
comfort,  and  support  during  natural  life  as  they  need  —  and  in 
case  any,  either  of  my  family,  or  elsewhere  in  the  Society,  shall 
turn  away,  such  shall  forfeit  the  provisions  herein  made  for 

"  IV.  I  hereby  ordain  and  appoint  the  above  named  Rachel 
and  Margaret  Malin  Executors  of  this  my  last  Will  and  Testa- 
ment.—  In  witness  whereof,  I,  the  person  once  called  Jemima 
Wilkinson,  but  in,  and  ever  since  the  year  1777,  known  as  and 
called  the  Public  Universal  Friend,  hereunto  set  my  name  and 
seal,  the  twenty-fifth  day  of  the  second  month,  in  the  year  of  the 
Lord  eighteen  hundred  and  eighteen. 




"  Be  it  remembered,  That  in  order  to  remove  all  doubts  of  the 
due  execution  of  the  foregoing  Will  and  Testament,  being  the 
person  who  before  the  year  one  thousand  seven  hundred  and 
seventy-seven  was  known  and  called  by  the  name  of  Jemima 
Wilkinson,  but  since  that  time  as  the  Universal  Friend,  do  make, 
publish,  and  declare  the  within  instrument  as  my  last  Will  and 
Testament  —  as  witness  my  Hand  and  Seal,  this  seventeenth 
day  of  the  seventh  month  (July),  in  the  year  one  thousand 
eight  hundred  and  eighteen. 


JEMIMA  X  WILKINSON,     [l.  s.] 





NO  QUESTIONS  that  engage  the  human  understanding 
are  more  interesting  in  their  analysis  or  more  vital  in 
their  import  than  those  which  deal  with  man's  origin 
and  destiny.  Why  are  we  here,  and  whither  are 
we  tending?  What  are  our  relations  to  the  Creator,  and 
His  intentions  toward  us,  now  and  hereafter?  Wise  men 
in  all  ages  have  given  their  best  thought  to  the  solution  of  these 
questions.  Buddhist  priests  and  Jewish  rabbis,  skilled  in  all 
the  mystical  lore  of  the  East,  pondered  them,  ages  before 
the  Wise  Men  saw  Bethlehem's  star.  From  them  the  Nazarene 
learned  his  lesson,  and  the  best  evidence  that  he  was  more  than 
man  is  that  he  bettered  their  instruction.  A  majority  of  the 
Christian  world  holds  Christ's  doctrines  to  be  emanations  from 
Deity  itself.  In  this  they  perhaps  do  wisely.  Better  accept 
the  immaculate  birth,  incarnation,  miracles,  atonement  on  the 
cross,  resurrection  and  ascension,  as  taught  in  the  New  Testa- 
ment, and  guide  the  bark  of  faith  by  them,  than  to  drift  without 
compass  or  rudder  on  a  boundless  sea  of  speculation,  doubt,  and 
uncertainty.  There  is  at  least  safety  in  the  beaten  path.  And 
yet  we  cannot  keep  man's  feet  in  that  path.  Reason,  protest, 
denounce,  and  anathematize  as  we  may,  he  will  go  astray.  The 
check-rein  of  church  authority  no  longer  curbs  or  guides  the 
human  mind.  The  faith  of  this  generation  may  be  the  fable  of 
the  next.  The  Episcopalian  is  not  content  with  his  prayer-book, 
and  the  Presbyterian  is  dissatisfied  with  his  creed.  Even  "  The 
Word  of  the  Lord "  which  "  endureth  forever "  has  recently 
been  revised.  If  we  accept  it,  either  in  its  original  or  revised 
form,  we  are  little  wiser  so  far  as  our  relations  to  the  Deity  and 
His  intentions  toward  us  are  concerned  than  were  those  who  lived 
before  the  Scriptures  were  given  to  mankind.  All  faiths 
and  all  lack  of  faiths,  all  beliefs  and  all  doubts,  have 
been  drawn  from  Holy  Writ.  No  one  has  been  able 
to  lift  the  veil  and  disclose  the  ultimate  truth,  though 
the    greatest    minds    in    all    ages    have    been    earnestly    busy 



with  the  attempt.  And  not  great  minds  alone  but  Little  ones. 
Enriched  by  credulity  and  superstition,  imposture  has  found  in 
religious  speculation  a  fertile  field  of  effort.  Such  a  field  was 
opened  nearly  sixty  years  ago  in  Western  New  York  by  the 
promulgation  of  the  Book  of  Mormon.  As  a  part  of  pioneer 
history  I  shall  try  to  give  some  account  of  the  origin  of  a  faith 
that  has  spread  over  half  the  globe,  and  has  for  years  defied  one 
of  the  strongest  of  existing  governments. 

Joseph  Smith,  Jr.,  the  bearer  of  the  new  evangel,  and  founder 
of  the  Church  of  Jesus  Christ  on  earth  of  Latter  Day  Saints, 
was  born  in  Sharon,  Vermont,  in  1805.  His  parents,  Joseph, 
Sr.,  and  Lucy  Smith,  can  be  truthfully  described  as  poor,  but  it 
is  doubtful  whether  the  rest  of  the  customar}r  phrase  can  be  ap- 
plied. The  father  was  a  shiftless,  ignorant,  underwitted,  and 
credulous  person,  given  to  idle  and  speculative  religious  vagaries, 
and  had  embraced,  from  time  to  time,  all  the  creeds  and  isms  that 
had  come  in  his  way.  He  changed  his  beliefs  more  easily  than  his 
costumes,  for  he  had  more  of  them.  He  was  a  smatterer  in 
Biblical  knowledge  and  theology,  but  the  seed  was  sown  on  barren 
soil  and  produced  nothing  but  idle  and  shallow  discussion.  A 
believer  in  the  marvelous  and  a  money  digger,  prone  to  difficulties 
with  his  neighbors  and  to  petty  lawsuits,  he  was  the  last  person  in 
the  world  who  would  have  been  suspected  by  those  who  knew  him 
of  being  the  father  of  a  prophet. 

The  wife  was  much  superior  to  her  husband.  She  was  a  woman 
of  strong  though  uncultivated  mind;  was  bold,  artful,  and  am- 
bitious :  believed  that  the  world  owed  her  a  better  living  than  had 
ever  been  provided  by  her  husband,  and  saw  her  way  to  get  it  by 
interesting  those  who  had  money  and  credulity  in  some  new 
and  wonderful  scheme  of  revelation  in  which  they  were  to  be  co- 
workers. Her  religious  enthusiasm  was  not  well  regulated,  and 
at  the  start  had  probably  no  higher  aim  than  to  provide  for  the 
temporal  wants  of  herself  and  family  without  labor.  The  first 
hints  that  a  prophet  was  to  spring  from  her  humble  household 
came  from  her,  but  her  husband  was  her  faithful  ally  in  all  that 
promised  to  enable  the  family  to  prosper  without  work. 

Nothing  definite  was  formulated  until  after  their  removal  to 
the  Genesee  Country,  which  took  place  in  1816.  The  family, 
consisting  of  six  sons  and  three  daughters  —  Joseph  being  the 
fourth  child  in  order  of  birth  —  settled  at  Palmyra,  Wayne 
Countv,  New  York,  and  opened  there  a  small  shop  for  the  sale 


of  cakes,  candies,  spruce  beer,  and  tobacco,  adding,  on  the  fourth 
of  July  and  general  muster  days,  pies,  boiled  eggs,  gingerbread, 
and  chestnuts,  which  they  peddled  from  a  rude  cart  constructed 
by  the  proprietor.  The  profits  of  this  limited  trade  were  insuf- 
ficient for  the  maintenance  of  Mr.  Smith's  large  family,  and 
were  supplemented  by  occasional  jobs  of  gardening  and  wood- 
sawing  for  the  villagers,  and  by  well-digging  and  harvest 
work  for  the  surrounding  farmers.  A  constitutional  aversion  to 
labor  rendered  the  income  from  these  sources  small,  and  after  a 
residence  in  Palmyra  of  about  two  and  a  half  years  the  Smiths 
abandoned  their  shop  and  removed  to  a  piece  of  wild  or  timbered 
land  in  the  northeast  corner  of  the  town  of  Manchester,  Ontario 
County,  about  two  miles  south  of  Palmyra.  On  this  land  they 
had  built,  previous  to  removing,  a  small  one-story  log  house, 
having  two  apartments  on  the  ground  floor,  and  a  low  garret 
above  similarly  divided.  The  property  belonged  to  non-resident 
minor  heirs,  and  the  rights  of  squatter  sovereignty  were  exer- 
cised by  the  Smiths  for  a  number  of  years ;  but  at  length  they 
purchased  it  on  contract,  paying  a  small  sum  down,  and  in  this 
way  continued  their  occupancy  until  the  exploiting  of  the  Mor- 
mon scheme  in  1829. 

Removal  from  the  village  failed  to  improve  the  pecuniary 
status  of  the  Smiths.  There  was  no  quarter  day,  but  there  were 
also  no  cakes  and  ale.  They  underbrushed  half  an  acre  or  so  about 
their  cabin,  and  when  Mrs.  Smith's  tea  or  sugar  gave  out,  driven 
by  her  and  necessity,  they  would  cut  a  jag  of  firewood  and  haul  it 
to  Palmyra,  and  from  its  sale  replenish  in  a  scanty  way  their  stock 
of  groceries.  Turner,  the  author  of  a  "  History  of  the  Holland 
Purchase,"  at  that  time  a  journeyman  printer  in  Palmyra,  thus 
describes  Joseph,  Jr. :  "  My  recollections  of  him  are  distinct  ones. 
He  used  to  come  into  the  village  from  his  backwoods  home 
with  little  jags  of  wood,  sometimes  patronizing  the  saloon  too 
freely,  and  sometimes  finding  an  odd  job  to  do  about  the  store  of 
Seymour  Scovell.  Once  a  week  he  would  stroll  into  the  office  of 
the  old  Palmyra  Register  for  his  father's  paper.  How  impious 
in  us  to  occasionally  blacken  the  face  of  the  future  prophet  with 
the  old-fashioned  ink-balls  when  his  inquisitiveness  put  him  in  the 
way  of  the  working  of  the  old  Ramage  press." 

The  father  and  his  elder  sons,  Alvin  and  Hyrum,  still  did  odd 
jobs  of  well-digging  and  harvesting,  but  the  greater  portion  of 
their  time  was   spent  in  hunting,  fishing,  trapping  mink  and 


muskrat,  digging  wood  chucks  out  of  their  holes  to  supply 
vacancies  in  the  family  larder,  and  lounging  around  the  shops 
and  stores  in  Palmyra.  Joseph  was  too  lazy  to  hunt  or  dig  — 
j  ust  lazy  enough  to  fish,  at  which  meditative  sport  he  would  pass 
whole  days  without  moving  from  the  spot  where  he  made  his  first 
cast,  possibly  revolving  the  scheme  which  was  to  make  him  a 
marked  if  not  an  estimable  character,  but  more  likely  lost  in  vis- 
ions of  an  earthly  nature,  such  as  locating  buried  treasures  or 
devising  other  means  for  circumventing  the  original  penalty  — 
"  In  the  sweat  of  thy  face  shalt  thou  eat  bread."  At  lounging 
about  he  was  the  equal  of  his  brethren  and  their  progenitor.  A 
large  and  thriftless  family,  without  habits  of  industry  or  visible 
means  of  support,  occupies  an  unfortunate  place  amongst  indus- 
trious and  honest  neighbors. 

Suspicion  was  often  turned  toward  them  in  connection  with 
nocturnal  depredations  on  hen  roosts,  smokehouses,  and  sheep- 
folds,  which  they  in  turn  charged  upon  four-footed  marauders. 
The  pioneer,  however,  was  too  familiar  with  the  tracks  of 
wolves,  foxes,  and  weasels  to  mistake  them  for  human  footprints. 
But  it  must  in  all  fairness  be  said  that,  whatever  may  have  been 
the  suspicions  of  their  neighbors,  no  judicial  proceedings  ever 
traced  missing  property  to  Smith's  door. 

The  general  repute  of  the  family  may  be  learned  from  the 
following  statements.  Any  old  resident  of  Palmyra  or  Man- 
chester will  recognize  among  the  signatures  the  names  of  the  best 
people  living  at  that  time  in  those  towns. 

"  Manchester,  Ontario  Co.,  N.  Y.,  Nov.  3,  1833. 
"  We,  the  undersigned,  being  personally  acquainted  with  the 
family  of  Joseph  Smith,  Sen.,  with  whom  the  Gold  Bible,  so 
called,  originated,  state  that  they  were  not  only  a  lazy,  indolent 
set  of  men,  but  also  intemperate,  and  their  word  was  not  to  be 
depended  upon,  and  that  we  are  truly  glad  to  dispense  with  their 

Pardon  Butts,  Warren  A.  Reed, 

Hiram  Smith,  Alfred  Stafford, 

James  Gee,  Abel  Chase, 

A.  H.  Wentworth,  Moses  C.  Smith, 

Joseph  Fish,  Horace  N.  Barnes, 

Sylvester  Worden." 


"  Palmyra,  Dec.  4,  1833. 
"  We,  the  undersigned,  have  been  acquainted  with  the  Smith 
family  for  a  number  of  years,  while  they  resided  near  this  place, 
and  we  have  no  hesitation  in  saying  that  we  consider  them  desti- 
tute of  that  moral  character  which  ought  to  entitle  them  to  the 
confidence  of  any  community.  They  were  particularly  famous 
for  visionary  projects,  spent  much  of  their  time  in  digging  for 
money  which  they  pretended  was  hid  in  the  earth;  and,  to  this 
day,  large  excavations  may  be  seen  in  the  earth,  not  far  from 
their  residence,  where  they  used  to  spend  their  time  in  digging 
for  hidden  treasures.  Joseph  Smith,  Senior,  and  his  son  Joseph, 
were,  in  particular,  considered  entirely  destitute  of  moral  char- 
acter, and  addicted  to  vicious  habits. 

"  Martin  Harris  was  a  man  who  had  acquired  a  handsome 
property,  and  in  matters  of  business  his  word  was  considered 
good ;  but  on  moral  and  religious  sub j  ects  he  was  perfectly  vis- 
ionary —  sometimes  advocating  one  sentiment  and  sometimes 
another.  And  in  reference  to  all  with  whom  we  were  acquainted 
that  have  embraced  Mormonism  from  this  neighborhood,  we  are 
compelled  to  say  were  very  visionary,  and  most  of  them  destitute 
of  moral  character  and  without  influence  in  this  community : 
and  this  may  account  why  they  were  permitted  to  go  on  with 
their  impositions  undisturbed.  It  was  not  supposed  that  any  of 
them  were  possessed  of  sufficient  character  or  influence  to  make 
anyone  believe  their  book  or  their  sentiments,  and  we  know  not 
of  a  single  individual  in  this  vicinity  that  puts  the  least  confi- 
dence in  their  pretended  revelations. 

George  N.  Williams,  Clark  Robinson, 

Lemuel  Durfee,  E.  S.  Townsend, 

Henry  P.  Alger,  C.  E.  Thayer, 

G.  W.  Anderson,  H.  P.  Thayer, 

L.  Williams,  George  W.  Crosby, 

Levi  Thayer,  R.  S.  Williams, 

P.  Sexton,  M.  Butterfield, 

S.  P.  Seymour,  D.  S.  Jackways, 

John  Hurlbut,  H.  Linnell, 

James  Jenner,  S.  Ackley, 

Josiah  Rice,  Jesse  Townsend, 

Richard  D.  Clark,  Th.  P.  Baldwin, 

John  Sothington,  Durfey  Chase, 

Wells  Anderson,  N.  H.  Beckwith, 


Philo  Durfee,  Giles  S.  Ely, 

R.  W.  Smith,  Pelatiah  West, 

Henry  Jessup,  Linus  North, 

Thomas  Rogers,  2d,  Wm.  Parke, 

Josiah  Francis,  Amos  Hollister, 

G.  A.  Hathaway,  David  G.  Ely, 

H.  K.  Jerome,  G.  Beckwith, 

Lewis  Foster,  Hiram  Payne, 

P.  Grandin,  L.  Hurd, 

Joel  Thayer,  E.  D.  Robinson, 

Asahel  Millard,  A.  Ensworth, 

Israel  F.  Chilson." 

In  September,  1819,  a  trifling  and  apparently  unimportant 
event  occurred  which,  however,  had  much  to  do  in  establishing  the 
Mormon  Church.  This  was  the  discovery  of  the  celebrated  Peek 
Stone.  It  was  unearthed  by  the  Prophet's  father  and  elder 
sons  while  engaged  in  digging  a  well  near  Palmyra  for  Mr. 
Clark  Chase.  It  first  attracted  the  attention  of  Mr.  Chase's 
children  by  the  peculiarity  of  its  shape,  which  nearly  resembled 
the  foot  of  a  young  child.  When  washed  it  was  whitish,  glossy, 
and  opaque  in  appearance.  Joseph,  Jr.,  who  was  an  idle  looker- 
on  at  the  labors  of  his  father  and  brethren,  at  once  possessed 
himself  of  this  geological  oddity,  but  not  without  strenuous 
protest  on  the  part  of  the  children,  who  claimed  it  by  right  of 
discovery,  and  because  it  was  found  upon  their  father's  premises. 
Joseph,  however,  kept  it,  and  though  frequent  demands  were 
made,  after  it  became  famous,  for  its  restoration,  it  was  never 
returned  to  the  claimants.  Very  soon  it  became  noised  abroad 
that  by  means  of  this  stone  the  inchoate  Prophet  could  locate 
buried  treasure  and  discover  the  whereabouts  of  stolen  property. 
In  the  latter  case  he  might  not  have  had  to  look  a  great  way. 
People  from  far  and  near  who  had  lost  valuables  consulted 
Joseph.  With  his  eyes  bandaged  and  his  Peek  Stone  at  the  bot- 
tom of  a  tall  white  hat,  he  satisfied  all  inquirers  for  a  fee  of 
seventy-five  cents.  My  grandfather  paid  that  sum  to  learn  what 
had  become  of  a  valuable  mare  stolen  from  his  stable,  and  he  was 
a  tolerably  shrewd  and  prosperous  Dutchman  for  those  days. 
He  recovered  his  beast,  which  Joe  said  was  somewhere 
on  the  lake  shore,  and  about  to  be  run  over  to  Canada. 
Anybody  could  have  told  him  that,  as  it  was  invariably  the 


way  a  horsethief  would  take  to  dispose  of  a  stolen  animal  in 
those  days. 

It  was  not  long  before  Joe  discovered  that  with  his  stone  he 
could  locate  hidden  treasures  of  great  value.  Glittering  heaps 
of  gold  and  silver,  contained  in  earthen  pots  and  iron  chests, 
buried  in  the  earth,  were  revealed  to  his  vision  and  their  exact 
locality  indicated  by  its  aid.  When  we  consider  the  attractive- 
ness of  suddenly-acquired  wealth  to  the  generality  of  mankind, 
and  the  fascination  which  gold  hunting  has  possessed  from  the 
days  when  Jason  and  Captain  Kidd  sailed  the  main  down  to  the 
time  when  the  Argonauts  of  '49  went  'round  the  Horn,  we  can- 
not wonder  that  some  of  the  poorer  and  more  credulous  of  Joe's 
neighbors  believed  his  stories  and  helped  him  to  unearth  his  fabu- 
lous treasures.  The  shining  hoards  he  pretended  to  see  had  this 
advantage :  they  were  in  stamped  and  minted  coin,  unmixed  with 
baser  matter.  There  was  no  occasion  for  a  washer,  smelter,  or 
assayer.  His  money-digging  operations  were  organized  much 
in  the  usual  way.  The  working  capital  was  labor  and  whiskey. 
The  former  was  contributed  by  toiling  men  who  were  to  share 
in  the  profits  of  the  enterprise.  The  whiskey  was  supplied  by 
Joe  from  funds  raised  in  the  vicinity  from  credulous  and  good- 
natured  people  who  were  taken  in  on  the  ground  plan,  and  prom- 
ised a  thousand-fold  for  every  dollar  invested.  From  those  who 
were  not  prepared  to  pay  in  cash,  contributions  of  grain,  flour, 
fat  sheep,  calves,  and  pigs  were  received.  It  seems  hardly 
credible,  but  it  is  true,  that  for  nearly  five  years  the  Smiths 
found  dupes  who  supported  them  in  considerable  comfort  by 
contributions  to  their  fortune-telling  and  money-digging  schemes. 

Joe's  delving  parties  were  organized  with  much  secrecy  and 
mystery.  He  usually  named  some  unfrequented  spot  and 
the  dead  hour  of  night  as  the  place  and  time  of  rendezvous. 
Thither  the  party  repaired  with  lanterns,  spades,  shovels,  and 
pickaxes.  After  some  preparatory  mystic  ceremonies, 
such  as  the  waving  of  a  magic  wand,  and  the  utter- 
ance of  some  foolish  incantation  gibberish,  Joe  would 
look  at  the  Peek  Stone  in  his  hat,  and  then  indicate 
the  spot  where  the  digging  was  to  begin.  Absolute 
silence  was  the  condition  of  success.  Work  would  go  on  for 
hours  and  hours  without  a  word  being  spoken.  At  length  some 
tired  and  perhaps  disgusted  digger,  "  tempted  by  the  Spirit  of 
Evil,"  would  speak,  and  the  treasure  would  vanish.     The  com- 


pany  were  always  assured  by  Joe  that  if  the  spell  had  not  been 
broken  a  few  more  blows  would  have  revealed  the  glittering  heaps. 
But  the  spell  always  was  broken,  and  the  wonder  remains  that 
Smith  should  have  been  able  to  continue  these  operations  until 
the  surface  of  the  earth  in  his  neighborhood  was  full  of  holes, 
digged  by  his  dupes.  I  copy  an  account  of  one  of  these  delving 
operations  from  Pomeroy  Tucker's  "  History  of  the  Rise  and 
Progress  of  Mormonism."  He  says :  "  A  single  instance  of 
Smith's  style  of  conducting  these  money-diggings  will  suffice  for 
the  whole  series,  and  illustrate  his  low  cunning  and  the  strange 
infatuation  of  the  people  who  yielded  to  his  unprincipled  designs. 
Assuming  his  accustomed  air  of  mystery  on  one  of  these  occa- 
sions, and  pretending  to  see  by  his  miraculous  stone  just  where 
the  sought-for  chest  of  money  had  lodged  in  its  underground 
transits,  he  gave  out  the  revelation  that  a  black  sheep  would  be 
required  as  a  sacrificial  offering  upon  the  enchanted  ground 
before  entering  upon  the  work  of  exhumation.  He  knew  that 
his  kind-hearted  neighbor,  Wm.  Stafford  —  a  farmer  in  comfort- 
able worldly  circumstances  —  possessed  a  fine,  fat,  black  wether, 
intended  for  division  between  his  household  and  the  village  mar- 
ket. Joe  also  knew  that  Mr.  Stafford  had  been  for  many  years 
a  sailor,  and  was  prone  toward  the  vagaries  and  superstitions 
of  his  class.  He  therefore  proposed  that  his  friend  should  in- 
vest the  wether  as  his  share  in  the  speculation,  a  proposition  to 
which  the  credulous  sailor  readily  acceded.  At  the  appointed 
hour  of  night  the  diggers  with  lanterns  and  the  fatted  sheep  for 
the  sacrifice  were  conducted  by  Joseph  to  the  spot  where  the 
treasure  was  to  be  obtained.  There  he  described  a  circle  on 
the  ground  around  the  buried  chest.  As  usual,  not  a  word  was  to 
be  spoken  until  after  the  prize  was  brought  forth.  Everything 
being  in  readiness,  the  throat  of  the  sheep  was  cut,  and  the  poor 
animal  made  to  pour  out  its  blood  around  the  circle.  Then  the 
digging  began  in  a  vigorous  and  solemn  way.  In  this  case  it 
was  continued  for  three  hours,  when  some  one,  instigated  by  the 
devil,  '  spoke,'  and  the  plan  was  again  frustrated,  exactly  as  on 
repeated  former  trials !  In  the  meantime  the  elder  Smith,  aided 
by  one  of  his  sons,  had  withdrawn  the  sacrificial  carcass 
and  dressed  it  for  family  use."  Perhaps  there  was  more  than 
one  black  sheep  in  that  party. 

Although  human  credulity  seems  to  be  unbounded,  yet  the  same 
unsuccessful  schemes  being  worked  upon  a  few  persons  over  a 


series  of  years  become  at  length  a  trifle  stale  and  monotonous,  and 
it  is  no  wonder  that  Joe's  neighbors  began  after  a  while  to  tire  of 
making  contributions  of  labor,  money,  and  barter  to  his  money- 
digging  operations.  The  fame  of  these  nocturnal  adventures, 
however,  had  been  sounded  near  and  far,  and  the  miraculous  Peek 
Stone,  though  it  had  never  been  the  means  of  bringing 
forth  a  dime  except  from  the  pocket  of  some  credu- 
lous neighbor,  had  become  nearly  as  celebrated  as  the 
lamp  of  Aladdin.  Among  those  who  had  heard  of  it  was 
the  Rev.  Sidney  Rigdon,  who  appeared  at  the  log  hut  of  the 
Smiths  in  the  summer  of  1827  and  had  an  interview  with  the 
money  digger.  I  give  it  as  my  deliberate  opinion  that  the 
credit  or  discredit  of  being  the  founder  of  the  Mormon  faith  be- 
longs to  Mr.  Rigdon.  The  Smiths  never  had  brains  enough  to 
exploit  it.  It  is  true  that  Mrs.  Smith  had  given  out  that  she  was 
to  be  the  mother  of  a  prophet,  but  she  had  fixed  upon  her  eldest 
son  Alvin  to  be  the  wearer  of  Elijah's  mantle,  and  with  his  death 
all  her  hopes  in  that  direction  were  blasted.  I  am  furthermore 
of  opinion  that  if  Alvin  Smith  had  lived  the  Gold  Bible  and 
Mormonism  would  never  have  been  heard  of.  He  seems  to  have 
been  the  only  level-headed,  honest  member  of  the  family.  He 
had  some  habits  of  industry,  and  his  neighbors  were  willing  to 
exchange  work  with  him,  or  trust  him  for  a  bag  of  wheat  or 
corn,  for  a  ham  or  a  jag  of  fodder,  upon  his  promise  to  pay  for 
the  same  in  labor.  He  had  no  faith  in  the  Peek  Stone  or  the 
money-digging  schemes,  was  not  given  to  religious  vagaries,  and 
it  is  very  doubtful  whether  he  could  have  been  induced  by  Rigdon 
to  become  a  party  to  the  fraud  upon  which  the  Mormon  faith 
is  based.  An  examination  of  the  facts  will  go  far  toward  estab- 
lishing Mr.  Rigdon's  claim  to  be  the  founder  of  the  Mormon 

If  contemporary  evidence  is  of  any  value,  it  settles  beyond  dis- 
pute the  fact  that  Joseph  Smith,  Jr.,  was  not  a  person  of  suf- 
ficient education  to  have  written  the  Book  of  Mormon.  In  fact, 
he  could  hardly  write  at  all,  his  efforts  in  the  way  of  caligraphy 
being  confined  in  the  main  to  inscribing  in  an  awkward  and 
laborious  manner  his  own  name.  His  reading  was  confined  to 
works  of  fiction  of  the  dime-novel  class,  and  to  stories  of  piracy 
and  criminality.  The  lives  of  Stephen  Burroughs  and  Captain 
Kidd  captivated  his  fancy  and  satisfied  his  mental  cravings.  Up 
to  the  time  when  Mr.  Rigdon  appeared  on  the  scene  Joe's  principal 


characteristics  were  taciturnity,  secretiveness,  and  mysterious 
pretensions ;  when  disposed  to  be  communicative,  which  was  not 
often,  he  was  so  mendacious  and  extravagant  in  statement  as  to 
bring  upon  himself  the  aversion  and  contempt  of  his  auditors. 
His  religious  views  were  unique  and  original  at  first,  but  de- 
generated into  unbelief  and  blasphemy,  and  finally  led  him  to  the 
conclusion  that  "  all  sects  were  wrong,  all  churches  on  a  false 
foundation,  and  the  Bible  a  fable."  Yet  we  are  asked  to  believe 
that  a  new  revelation  from  God  to  man  was  made  through  such 
a  medium  as  this.  The  only  other  person  in  any  way  connected 
with  the  production  of  the  Mormon  Bible  was  Oliver  Cowdery. 
He  was  a  country  schoolmaster  whose  education  was  limited  to  a 
superficial  acquaintance  with  the  three  R's.  Perhaps  a  claim  to 
celestial  inspiration  might  be  urged  in  his  behalf  from  the  fact 
that  he  taught  school  two  winters  in  the  district  that  was  after- 
ward the  home  of  the  Fox  Sisters,  who  originated  modern  Spirit- 
ualism. But  the  main  reason  of  his  association  with  Smith 
and  Rigdon  was  that  they  wanted  a  scribe  who  wrote  a  legible 
hand,  which  Smith  certainly  did  not.  Rigdon  was  the  only  one 
of  the  triumvirate  who  could  pretend  to  any  literary  ability,  and 
he  —  as  the  sequel  will  show  —  was  a  compiler,  and  not  an  orig- 
inator. Previous  to  his  acquaintance  with  Smith  he  had  been 
preacher,  printer,  and  lecturer,  in  short,  a  sort  of  versatile  tramp 
who  was  willing  to  turn  his  hand  to  anything  except  honest  labor. 
Just  how  he  became  acquainted  with  the  Smiths  is  not  known,  but 
it  is  probable  he  had  heard  of  their  miraculous  stone,  and  believing 
he  could  turn  it  to  good  use,  or  rather  to  personal  advantage, 
sought  them  out  and  introduced  himself.  For  nearly  two  years 
his  visits  to  them  were  secret  and  incognito,  a  style  of  thing 
that  suited  Joe  exactly.  He  was  known  to  the  neighbors  as  the 
mysterious  stranger.  Though  not  susceptible  of  absolute  proof, 
it  is  reasonably  certain  that  he  furnished  Joe  with  two  tilings 
which  formed  the  basis  of  the  Mormon  Bible.  The  first  was  a 
set  of  plates  "  having  the  appearance  of  gold,"  upon  which  were 
engraved  curious  hieroglyphics ;  the  second,  a  manuscript  tale 
concerning  certain  lost  tribes  which  had  formerly  inhabited 
North  America,  one  of  which  had  been  exterminated  by  the  other 
—  the  remnant  of  the  remaining  tribe  being  the  native  Indians 
found  here  when  the  country  was  discovered.  From  this  tale, 
mixed  up  with  copious  quotations  and  paraphrases  from  the  Old 
and  New  Testament,  the  Book  of  Mormon  was  compiled. 


How  did  Rigdon  become  possessed  of  the  plates  ?  In  answer, 
I  quote  from  Mr.  Tucker's  history :  "  Among  American  an- 
tiquities found  in  the  Western  country  and  preserved  by  the 
curious  in  such  matters,  are  what  are  called  glyphs,  consisting 
of  curious  metallic  plates  covered  with  hieroglyphical  characters. 
Professor  Raffinesque,  in  his  Asiatic  Journal  for  1832,  describes 
similar  plates  found  by  him  in  Mexico,  being  written  from  top 
to  bottom  like  the  Chinese  language,  or  from  side  to  side,  indif- 
ferently, like  the  Egyptian  and  Demotic  Libyan.  A  number  of 
these  remains  were  found  in  Pike  County,  Illinois,  a  few  years  ago, 
described  as  six  plates  of  brass  of  a  bell  shape,  each  having  a  hole 
near  the  small  end,  with  a  ring  through  all  of  them,  and  clasped 
with  two  clasps.  The  plates  at  first  seemed  to  be  of  copper,  and 
had  the  appearance  of  being  covered  with  characters.  A  cleansing 
by  sulphuric  acid  brought  out  the  characters  distinctly." 

Rigdon  was  of  a  speculative  turn  of  mind  —  was  possessed  of 
some  little  scientific  ability,  and  had  lectured  upon  antiquarian  and 
philosophical  subjects  in  the  Western  States,  where  he  probably 
picked  up  a  set  of  these  glyphs  or  plates.  It  is  certainly  more 
reasonable  to  assume  this  than  to  believe  that  eleven  of  Smith's 
followers  made  affidavits  to  a  deliberate  falsehood  when  they 
testified  that  they  had  seen  "  plates  having  the  appearance  of 
gold "  in  possession  of  the  Prophet.  Three  men,  Cowdery, 
David  Whitmer,  and  Martin  Harris,  affirmed  that  an  angel  from 
heaven  came  down  from  God  and  laid  the  plates  before  their 
eyes,  and  that  they  saw  the  engravings  thereon.  This  was  un- 
doubtedly false  as  to  the  angel,  but  eight  others  —  all  Smiths 
and  Whitmers,  to  be  sure,  except  one  —  testified  that  Joseph 
Smith,  Jr.,  had  "  shown  them  the  plates  and  the  engravings 
thereon,  that  they  had  handled  and  '  hefted  '  the  same,  and  that 
they  know  of  a  surety  that  said  Smith  had  the  plates  in  his  pos- 
session from  which  the  translation  was  made."  For  the  credit 
of  human  character  it  is  best  to  assume  that  Rigdon  had  fur- 
nished Joe  with  a  set  of  the  glyphs  which  have  been  described. 

The  manuscript  tale,  which  was  the  other  corner  stone  of  the 
Mormon  structure,  was  written  by  the  Reverend  Solomon  Spald- 
ing, about  the  year  1810  or  1811.  Who  he  was  may  be  learned 
from  the  subjoined  statements  of  his  brother  and  partner,  which 
explain  themselves : 

"  Solomon  Spalding  was  born  in  Ashford,  Conn.,  in  1761, 
and  in  early  life  contracted  a  taste  for  literary  pursuits.     After 


he  left  school  he  entered  Plainfield  Academy,  where  he  made  great 
proficiency  in  study,  and  excelled  most  of  his  class-mates.  He 
next  commenced  the  study  of  law,  in  Windham  County,  in  which 
he  made  little  progress,  having  in  the  meantime  turned  his  at- 
tention to  religious  subjects.  He  soon  entered  Dartmouth  Col- 
lege, with  the  intention  of  qualifying  himself  for  the  ministry, 
where  he  obtained  the  degree  of  A.  M.,  and  was  afterward  regu- 
larly ordained.  After  preaching  three  or  four  years,  he  gave 
it  up,  removed  to  Cherry  Valley,  New  York,  and  commenced  the 
mercantile  business  in  company  with  his  brother  Josiah.  In  a 
few  years  he  failed  in  business,  and  in  the  year  1809  removed 
to  Conneaut,  in  Ohio.  The  year  following  I  removed  to  Ohio, 
and  found  him  engaged  in  building  a  forge.  I  made  him  a  visit 
in  about  three  years  after,  and  found  that  he  had  failed,  and  was 
considerably  involved  in  debt.  He  then  told  me  he  had  been 
writing  a  book,  which  he  intended  to  have  printed,  the  avails  of 
which  he  thought  would  enable  him  to  pay  all  his  debts.  The 
book  was  entitled,  the  *  Manuscript  Found,'  of  which  he  read  to 
me  many  passages.  It  was  an  historical  romance  of  the  first 
settlers  of  America  —  endeavoring  to  show  that  the  American 
Indians  are  the  descendants  of  the  Jews,  or  the  lost  tribes.  It 
gave  a  detailed  account  of  their  journey  from  Jerusalem,  by 
land  and  sea,  till  they  arrived  in  America,  under  the  command  of 
NEPHI  and  LEHI.  They  afterward  had  quarrels  and  conten- 
tions, and  separated  into  two  distinct  nations,  one  of  which  he 
denominated  Nephites  and  the  other  Lamanites.  Cruel  and 
bloody  wars  ensued,  in  which  great  multitudes  were  slain.  They 
buried  their  dead  in  large  heaps,  which  caused  the  mounds  so 
common  in  this  country.  Their  arts,  sciences,  and  civilization 
were  brought  into  view,  in  order  to  account  for  all  the  curious 
antiquities  found  in  various  parts  of  North  and  South  America. 
I  have  recently  read  the  book  of  Mormon,  and,  to  my  great  sur- 
prise, I  find  nearly  the  same  historical  matter,  names,  etc.,  as 
they  were  in  my  brother's  writings.  I  well  remember  that  he 
wrote  in  the  old  style,  and  commenced  about  every  sentence  with, 
'  And  it  came  to  pass,'  or  '  Now  it  came  to  pass,'  the  same 
as  in  the  Book  of  Mormon,  and,  according  to  the  best  of  my  recol- 
lection and  belief,  it  is  the  same  as  my  brother  Solomon  wrote, 
with  the  exception  of  the  religious  matter.  By  what  means  it 
has  fallen  into  the  hands  of  Joseph  Smith,  Jr.,  I  am  unable  to 
determine.  Johx  Spalding." 



"  Conneaut,  Ashtabula  County,  Ohio,  Sept.,  1833. 
"  I  left  the  State  of  New  York,  late  in  the  year  1810,  and  ar- 
rived at  this  place  about  the  first  of  January  following.  Soon 
after  my  arrival,  I  formed  a  partnership  with  Solomon  Spalding, 
for  the  purpose  of  rebuilding  a  forge  which  he  had  commenced 
a  year  or  two  before.  He  very  frequently  read  to  me  from  a 
manuscript  which  he  was  writing,  which  he  entitled,  the  *  Manu- 
script Found,'  and  which  he  represented  as  being  found  in  this 
town.  I  spent  many  hours  in  hearing  him  read  said  writings, 
and  became  well  acquainted  with  their  contents.  He  wished  me 
to  assist  him  in  getting  his  production  printed,  alleging  that  a 
book  of  that  kind  would  meet  with  a  rapid  sale.  I  designed 
doing  so,  but  the  forge  not  meeting  our  anticipations,  we  failed 
in  business,  when  I  declined  having  anything  to  do  with  the 
publication  of  the  book.  This  book  represented  the  American 
Indians  as  the  descendants  of  the  lost  tribes  —  gave  an  account 
of  their  leaving  Jerusalem,  their  contentions  and  wars,  which 
were  many  and  great.  One  time,  when  he  was  reading  to  me 
the  tragic  account  of  Laban,  I  pointed  out  to  him  what  I  con- 
sidered an  inconsistency,  which  he  promised  to  correct ;  but  by 
referring  to  the  Book  of  Mormon,  I  find,  to  my  surprise,  that  it 
stands  there  just  as  he  read  it  to  me  then.  Some  months  ago  I 
borrowed  the  Golden  Bible,  put  it  into  my  pocket,  carried  it  home, 
and  thought  no  more  of  it.  About  a  week  after,  my  wife  found 
the  book  in  my  coat  pocket,  as  it  hung  up,  and  commenced  read- 
ing it  aloud  as  I  lay  upon  the  bed.  She  had  not  read  twenty 
minutes  till  I  was  astonished  to  find  the  same  passages  in  it  that 
Spalding  had  read  to  me  more  than  twenty  years  before,  from  his 
'  Manuscript  Found.'  Since  that,  I  have  more  fully  examined 
the  said  Golden  Bible,  and  have  no  hesitation  in  saying,  that 
the  historical  part  of  it  is  principally,  if  not  wholly,  taken  from 
the  '  Manuscript  Found.'  I  well  recollect  telling  Mr.  Spalding 
that  the  so  frequent  use  of  the  words,  *  And  it  came  to  pass,' 
'  Now  it  came  to  pass,'  rendered  it  ridiculous.  Spalding  left 
here  in  1812,  and  I  furnished  him  the  means  to  carry  him  to 
Pittsburg,  where  he  said  he  would  get  the  book  printed,  and  pay 
me.  But  I  never  heard  any  more  from  him  or  his  writings,  till 
I  saw  them  in  the  Book  of  Mormon. 

"  Henry   Lake." 

Aaron  Wright,  Oliver  Smith,  and  Nahum  Howard,  of  Con- 


neaut,  make  confirmatory  statements.  Evidence  to  an  unlimited 
extent  might  —  if  necessary  —  be  adduced,  showing  the  sub- 
stantial identity  between  Spalding's  tale  and  Smith  and  Rigdon's 
revelation.  Rigdon's  possession  of  the  manuscript  is  easily 
explained:  It  will  be  seen  that  Spalding  after  having  failed  in 
business  removed  to  Pittsburg,  Pa.,  where  he  expected  to  recoup 
his  fortunes  by  the  publication  of  his  book.  He  there  submit- 
ted his  manuscript  to  a  firm  of  printers,  Messrs.  Patterson  & 
Lambdin,  with  a  view  to  its  issue  on  joint  account,  but  the  pro- 
posal was  not  carried  out.  What  became  of  the  manuscript  is 
now  the  question  ?  Spalding's  widow  supposed  it  to  be  in  a  trunk 
with  other  writings  of  her  husband  which  she  had  removed  to 
Otsego  County,  New  York,  after  his  decease,  but  upon  search 
it  was  not  to  be  found.  She  remembered  that  while  they  lived 
in  Pittsburg  her  husband  had  taken  it  to  the  office  of  Patterson 
&  Lambdin,  but  whether  it  was  ever  returned  she  was  unable  to 
say.  The  probability  is  that  it  remained  with  other  lumber  en 
the  printers'  shelves  until  it  was  discovered  and  appropriated  by 
Rigdon  about  1823  or  182-t.  He  at  this  period  resided  in 
Pittsburg  and  was  intimate  with  Lambdin,  the  survivor  of  the 
printing  firm  —  Patterson  having  joined  the  majority.  Rigdon 
remained  in  Pittsburg  nearly  three  years,  and,  according  to  his 
own  statement,  abandoned  preaching  and  lived  in  seclusion  for 
the  purpose  of  studying  the  Bible.  Though  it  cannot  be  estab- 
lished by  positive  proof,  there  is  little  doubt  that  he  obtained  the 
Spalding  manuscript  from  Lambdin,  and  that  during  his  seclu- 
sion, instead  of  studying  the  Bible  he  was  paving  the  way  for 
a  substitute  for  it,  which  he  and  Smith  afterward  issued  as  the 
Book  of  Mormon.  After  the  death  of  Lambdin,  Rigdon  removed 
to  Geauga  County,  Ohio,  where  he  began  preaching  new  points 
of  doctrine,  which  were  found  —  after  its  publication  —  to  be  in- 
culcated in  the  Mormon  Bible.  The  death  of  Lambdin  left  Rig- 
don sole  proprietor  of  the  work  which  was  probably  to  be  issued 
by  them  jointly.  The  latter  was  now  free  to  bring  it  out  in 
such  manner  as  he  thought  best  calculated  to  insure  its  success. 
He  knew  very  well  that  no  publisher  would  touch  it  on  its  literary 
merit,  and  therefore  concluded  to  announce  it  to  the  world  as  a 
new  revelation  from  on  high.  Who  more  likely  to  assist  in  thus 
exploiting  it  than  the  famous  money-digger?  His  juggling  feats 
had  been  heralded  far  and  wide,  and  had  lost  nothing  in  their  tell- 
ing.   His  delving  schemes  had  been  transferred  to  Pennsylvania 


after  becoming  dishonored  in  his  own  country,  and  faith  in  the 
miraculous  stone  was  much  stronger  abroad  than  at  home.  It  was 
undoubtedly  with  a  view  to  utilizing  Joe  and  his  stone  that  Rigdon 
paid  his  first  visit  to  the  Smiths.  Enveloped  in  mystery  and  se- 
clusion, the  two  worthies  plotted  and  planned,  until  the  whole 
miserable  fraud  was  formulated,  and  the  new  revelation  ready  to 
be  announced.  So  many  different  stories  were  told  by  Joe  in 
regard  to  finding  the  golden  plates  that  it  is  impossible  to  say 
which  was  least  mendacious.  It  may  be  he  had  never  heard  of  the 
adage  that  liars  should  have  good  memories.  The  gist  of  his 
tales  may  be  summed  up  about  as  follows:  A  message  from 
heaven  disclosed  to  him  the  fact  that  certain  golden  plates,  on 
both  sides  of  which  were  engraved  finely  drawn  characters  re- 
sembling Egyptian  hieroglyphics,  were  lying  buried  in  a  hill 
near  his  residence.  The  leaves  or  plates  were  said  to  be  about 
the  thickness  of  tin.  On  the  top  of  the  chest  containing  the 
plates  were  two  crystals  set  in  the  rims  of  a  bow  in  the  form 
of  spectacles  of  enormous  size.  These  he  denominated  the  Urim 
and  Thummim,*  and  only  by  their  aid  could  the  engraving  on  the 
plates  be  understood  and  translated.  The  mystic  record  con- 
tained a  new  revelation  from  God  to  man,  which  was  to  supersede 
all  that  had  gone  before. 

The  hill  where  these  plates  were  buried  is  located  about  two 
miles  south  of  Palmyra,  on  a  farm  now  owned  by  George  Samp- 
son. There  is  nothing  very  remarkable  about  this  hill  except  its 
steepness,  which  makes  it  difficult  to  cultivate.  When  I  saw  it 
last,  a  flock  of  sheep  were  grazing  on  its  barren-looking  and 
precipitous  sides,  unconscious  of  the  fact  that  they  were  treading 
upon  ground  held  by  the  Mormon  Church  to  be  holy,  and  appar- 
ently deriving  very  little  material  sustenance  from  the  soil  which 
had  yielded  such  grand  results  in  a  spiritual  way.  It  is  known 
to  the  Mormon  Saints  as  the  hill  of  Camorah,  and  is  visited  and 
gazed  at  with  awe  and  reverence  by  numbers  of  them  every  year. 
The  exact  locality  on  the  hillside  where  the  plates  lay  buried 
was  indicated  to  Joe  by  his  magic  stone,  but  that  mar- 
velous article  was  thenceforward  to  be  superseded  by 
the    Urim    and    Thummim.     Not    long    after    Rigdon's    first 

*  Butterworth's  concordance  says:  "There  are  various  conjectures  about  the 
Urim  and  Thummim,  but  whether  they  were  stones  in  the  High  Priest's 
breastplate,  or  something  distinct  from  them  is  not  known.  It  is  evident  that 
the  Urim  and  Thummim  were  used  in  making  inquiry  of  the  Deity  on  moment- 
ous occasions." 


visit,  Smith  began  to  assume  the  role  of  Prophet,  Seer,  and  Reve- 
lator.  He  pretended  that  while  engaged  in  secret  prayer  in  the 
wilderness  an  angel  of  the  Lord  had  appeared  to  him  and  an- 
nounced that  "  all  the  religious  denominations  were  believing 
false  doctrines,  and,  in  consequence,  none  of  them  were  accepted 
of  God  as  of  his  Church  and  Kingdom."  The  angel  also  prom- 
ised Joseph  that  the  true  doctrine  and  fullness  of  the  gospel 
should  be  revealed  through  him.  From  this  time  forward  Joe 
had  revelations  whenever  he  wanted  them.  Very  soon  another 
angel  "  commanded  "  him  to  go  secretly  and  alone  to  a  certain 
spot  which  would  be  indicated  by  his  celestial  guide  and  there 
take  from  the  earth  a  metallic  book  of  sacred  origin  and  of  im- 
mortal importance  to  mankind  —  the  power  to  translate  which 
should  be  given  only  to  him  as  the  chosen  servant  of  the  Most 
High.  At  an  appointed  hour  and  under  guidance  of  the 
angel,  Joe  repaired  to  the  spot  where  the  sacred  records  lay 
buried,  which  was  on  the  east  side  of  the  hill  already  described. 
He  told  a  frightful  story  of  the  difficulties  encountered  before 
he  possessed  himself  of  the  holy  volume.  Ten  thousand  devils 
were  gathered  around  the  spot  and  menaced  him  with  sulphurous 
smoke  and  flame  to  deter  him  from  his  purpose,  but  the  angel 
appearing  as  his  protector  he  soon  laid  his  hands  upon  the  im- 
mortal records,  together  with  the  Urim  and  Thummim,  and  bore 
them  in  safety  to  his  humble  abode.  Reminding  his  family  of 
the  fact  that  the  angel  had  said  that  no  human  being  but  himself 
could  look  upon  the  golden  plates  and  live,  he  laid  them  away  in  a 
napkin  like  another  unprofitable  servant  that  has  been  mentioned. 
His  claim  to  their  possession  was  soon  noised  abroad,  and  the 
story  of  the  demons  who  encompassed  him  round  about,  of  the 
smoke,  brimstone,  and  flame  through  which  the  angel  of  the  Lord 
safely  conducted  him  and  his  treasure,  lost  nothing  as  it  went 
from  ear  to  ear.  Curiosity  to  see  the  heavenly  records  ran  high, 
but  the  death  penalty  denounced  against  the  mortal  who  should 
gaze  upon  them  was  sufficient  to  hold  the  great  majority  of  his 
neighbors  in  check.  Two  of  the  Prophet's  intimate  acquaint- 
ances, Azel  Vandruver  and  William  T.  Hussey,  not  having  the 
fear  of  death  before  their  eyes,  begged  him  for  a  peep  at  the 
"  golden  plates,"  and  offered  to  take  upon  themselves  all  risk  of 
the  penalty  denounced.  They  were  of  course  denied,  but  were 
permitted  to  see  where  they  were,  and  observe  their  shape  and 
size,  as  they  lay  concealed  under  a  thick  canvas.     Hussey  lightly 


pushed  the  Prophet  aside,  exclaiming  as  he  did  so,  "  Egad !  I'll 
see  them  dead  or  alive,"  and  whipped  off  the  cover.  He  was  re- 
warded by  a  sight  of  some  tile  brick.  Joe  was  equal  to  the 
emergency.  He  told  his  visitors  that  knowing  the  deadly  pen- 
alty of  a  sight  of  the  real  plates  he  had  provided  something  of 
about  the  same  size  and  weight  to  meet  such  an  emergency  as 
had  just  arisen.  Kind-hearted  man!  he  had  saved  the  life  of 
his  friend!  Did  the  Smiths,  the  Whitmers,  Cowdery,  Harris, 
and  Page  —  eleven  of  them  in  all  —  bear  false  witness  in  testify- 
ing that  they  had  seen  the  plates,  and  did  Joe  not  possess  even 
the  glyphs  that  have  been  described  ? 

With  intent  to  tell  the  plain  truth  only  about  Smith  and  his 
coworkers,  it  is  not  easy  to  comply.  How  can  anyone  take  the 
conflicting  stories  of  the  Prophet  and  his  followers  —  some  of 
them  confederates  and  some  of  them  dupes  —  and  say  how  much 
fact  and  how  much  fable  they  contain?  Joe  said  that  no  one 
could  see  the  golden  plates  and  live,  yet  eleven  of  his  followers 
testify  to  having  seen  them.  Rather  than  believe  that  these 
men  committed  perjury,  I  have  assumed  that  the  Prophet  had  in 
his  possession  plates  "  having  the  appearance  of  gold,"  which 
the  eleven  saw  and  "  hefted."  But  if  he  had  such  plates,  they 
were  not  under  the  canvas  which  Hussey  and  Vandruver  removed. 
When  he  found  it  necessary  to  have  proof  of  their  existence,  a 
revelation  from  heaven  remitted  the  death  penalty  so  far  as  eleven 
of  his  followers  were  concerned,  for  which  remission  see  the 
eleventh  chapter  of  the  second  book  of  Nephi.  And  thereafter, 
whenever  he  became  badly  tangled  in  a  network  of  falsehood, 
a  revelation  straightened  everything  out  up  to  date. 

Let  us  now  look  for  a  moment  at  the  tales  the  Prophet  himself 
told  his  neighbors  about  his  find. 

Peter  Ingersol,  a  neighbor,  who  shared  his  confidence  if  any- 
one did,  testifies  as  follows  : 

"  One  day  he  came  and  greeted  me  with  a  joyful  countenance. 
Upon  asking  the  cause  of  his  unusual  happiness,  he  replied  in 
the  following  language :  '  As  I  was  passing,  yesterday,  across 
the  woods,  after  a  heavy  shower  of  rain,  I  found  in  a  hollow,  some 
beautiful  white  sand  that  had  been  washed  up  by  the  water.  I 
took  off  my  frock,  and  tied  up  several  quarts  of  it,  and  then  went 
home.  On  my  entering  the  house,  I  found  the  family  at  the 
table  eating  dinner.  They  were  all  anxious  to  know  the  contents 
of  my  frock.     At  that  moment  I  happened  to  think  of  what  I 


had  heard  about  a  history  found  in  Canada,  called  the  Golden 
Bible ;  so  I  very  gravely  told  them  it  was  the  Golden  Bible.  To 
my  surprise,  they  were  credulous  enough  to  believe  what  I  said. 
Accordingly,  I  told  them  that  I  had  received  a  commandment  to 
let  no  one  see  it,  for,  says  I,  no  man  can  see  it  with  the  naked  eye 
and  live.  However,  I  offered  to  take  out  the  book  and  show  it  to 
them,  but  they  refused  to  see  it,  and  left  the  room.  Now,'  said 
Joe,  '  I  have  got  the  damned  fools  fixed,  and  will  carry  out  the 
fun.'  Notwithstanding  he  told  me  he  had  no  such  book,  and  be- 
lieved there  never  was  any  such  book,  yet  he  told  me  that  he 
actually  went  to  Willard  Chase,  to  get  him  to  make  a  chest  in 
which  he  might  deposit  his  Golden  Bible.  But,  as  Chase  would 
not  do  it,  he  made  a  box  himself  of  clapboards,  and  put  it  into  a 
pillow-case,  and  allowed  people  only  to  lift  it,  and  feel  of  it 
through  the  case." 

Mr.  Willard  Chase  makes  the  subjoined  statement: 
"  In  the  forepart  of  September  (I  believe),  1827,  the  Prophet 
requested  me  to  make  him  a  chest,  informing  me  that  he  de- 
signed to  move  back  to  Pennsylvania,  and  expecting  soon  to  get 
his  gold  book,  he  wanted  a  chest  to  lock  it  up,  giving  me  to 
understand,  at  the  same  time,  that  if  I  would  make  the  chest  he 
would  give  me  a  share  in  the  book.  I  told  him  my  business  was 
such  that  I  could  not  make  it ;  but  if  he  would  bring  the  book  to 
me  I  would  lock  it  up  for  him.  He  said  that  would  not  do,  as 
he  was  commanded  to  keep  it  two  years,  without  letting  it  come  to 
the  eye  of  anyone  but  himself.  This  commandment,  however, 
he  did  not  keep,  for  in  less  than  two  years  twelve  men  said  they 
had  seen  it.  I  told  him  to  get  it  and  convince  me  of  its  existence, 
and  I  would  make  him  a  chest ;  but  he  said  that  would  not  do,  as 
he  must  have  a  chest  to  lock  the  book  in  as  soon  as  he  took  it  out 
of  the  ground.  I  saw  him  a  few  days  after,  when  he  told  me  that 
I  must  make  the  chest.  I  told  him  plainly  that  I  could  not,  upon 
which  he  told  me  that  I  could  have  no  share  in  the  book. 

"  A  few  weeks  after  this  conversation,  he  came  to  my  house, 
and  related  the  following  story : — That  on  the  22d  of  September 
he  arose  early  in  the  morning,  and  took  a  one-horse  wagon,  of 
someone  that  had  stayed  over  night  at  their  house,  without  leave 
or  license ;  and,  together  with  his  wife,  repaired  to  the  hill  which 
contained  the  book.  He  left  his  wife  in  the  wagon,  by  the  road, 
and  went  alone  to  the  hill,  a  distance  of  thirty  or  forty  rods  from 


the  road ;  he  said  he  then  took  the  book  out  of  the  ground  and  hid 
it  in  a  tree-top,  and  returned  home.  He  then  went  to  the  town 
of  Macedon  to  work.  After  about  ten  days,  it  having  been  sug- 
gested that  some  one  had  got  his  book,  his  wife  went  after  him; 
he  hired  a  horse,  and  went  home  in  the  afternoon,  stayed  long 
enough  to  drink  one  cup  of  tea,  and  then  went  for  his  book, 
found  it  safe,  took  off  his  frock,  wrapt  it  round  it,  put  it  under 
his  arm,  and  run  all  the  way  home,  a  distance  of  about  two  miles. 
He  said  he  should  think  it  would  weigh  sixty  pounds,  and  was 
sure  it  would  weigh  forty.  On  his  return  home  he  said  he  was 
attacked  by  two  men  in  the  woods,  and  knocked  them  both  down 
and  made  his  escape,  arrived  safe,  and  secured  his  treasure.  lie 
then  observed  that  if  it  had  not  been  for  that  stone  (which  he  ac- 
knowledged belonged  to  me)  he  would  not  have  obtained  the  book. 
A  few  days  afterward,  he  told  one  of  my  neighbors  that  he  had 
not  got  any  such  book,  and  never  had ;  but  that  he  had  told  the 
story  to  deceive  the  d — d  fool  (meaning  me),  to  get  him  to  make 
a  chest.  His  neighbors  having  become  disgusted  with  his  foolish 
stories,  he  determined  to  go  back  to  Pennsylvania,  to  avoid  what 
he  called  persecution.  His  wits  were  now  put  to  the  task  to 
contrive  how  he  should  get  money  to  bear  his  expenses.  He  met 
one  day,  in  the  streets  of  Palmyra,  a  rich  man,  whose  name  was 
Martin  Harris,  and  addressed  him  thus :  —  'I  have  a  command- 
ment from  God  to  ask  the  first  man  I  meet  in  the  street  to  give 
me  fifty  dollars,  to  assist  me  in  doing  the  work  of  the  Lord,  by 
translating  the  Golden  Bible.'  Martin,  being  naturally  a  credu- 
lous man,  handed  Joseph  the  money.  In  the  spring,  1829, 
Harris  went  to  Pennsylvania,  and  on  his  return  to  Palmyra,  re- 
ported that  the  Prophet's  wife,  in  the  month  of  June  following, 
would  be  delivered  of  a  male  child  that  would  be  able,  when  two 
years  old,  to  translate  the  Gold  Bible.  Then,  said  he,  you  will 
see  Joseph  Smith,  Jr.,  walking  through  the  streets  of  Palmyra, 
with  a  Gold  Bible  under  his  arm,  and  having  a  gold  breastplate 
on,  and  a  gold  sword  hanging  by  his  side.  This,  however,  by  the 
bye,  proved  false. 

"  In  April,  1830,  I  again  asked  Hiram  for  the  stone  which  he 
had  borrowed  of  me ;  he  told  me  I  should  not  have  it,  for  Joseph 
made  use  of  it  in  translating  his  Bible.  I  reminded  him  of  his 
promise,  and  that  he  had  pledged  his  honor  to  return  it ;  but  he 
gave  me  the  lie,  saying  the  stone  was  not  mine,  nor  never  was. 
Harris  at  the  same  time  flew  in  a  rage,  took  me  by  the  collar  and 


said  I  was  a  liar,  and  he  could  prove  it  by  twelve  witnesses.  After 
I  had  extricated  myself  from  him,  Hiram,  in  a  rage,  shook  his 
fist  at  me,  and  abused  me  in  a  most  scandalous  manner.  Thus  I 
might  proceed  in  describing  the  character  of  these  high  priests, 
by  relating  one  transaction  after  another,  which  would  all  tend 
to  set  them  in  the  same  light  in  which  they  were  regarded  by 
their  neighbors,  viz.,  as  a  pest  to  society.  I  have  regarded 
Joseph  Smith,  Jr.,  from  the  time  I  first  became  acquainted  with 
him  until  he  left  this  part  of  the  country,  as  a  man  whose  word 
could  not  be  depended  upon.  Hiram's  character  was  but  very 
little  better.  What  I  have  said  respecting  the  characters  of  these 
men  will  apply  to  the  whole  family.  What  I  have  stated  relative 
to  the  characters  of  these  individuals,  thus  far,  is  wholly  true. 
After  they  became  thorough  Mormons,  their  conduct  was  more 
disgraceful  than  before.  They  did  not  hesitate  to  abuse  any 
man,  no  matter  how  fair  his  character,  provided  he  did  not  em- 
brace their  creed.  Their  tongues  were  continually  employed  in 
spreading  scandal  and  abuse.  Although  they  left  this  part  of 
the  country  without  paying  their  just  debts,  yet  their  creditors 
were  glad  to  have  them  do  so,  rather  than  to  have  them  stay,  dis- 
turbing the  neighborhood. 

Signed,      Willard  Chase." 


"  On  the  11th  of  December,  1833,  the  said  Willard  Chase  ap- 
peared before  me,  and  made  oath  that  the  foregoing  statement, 
to  which  he  has  subscribed  his  name,  is  true,  according  to  his 
best  recollection  and  belief.  Frederick  Smith, 

"  Justice  of  the  Peace  of  Wayne  County." 

Parley  Chase  affirms  as  follows :  —  "I  was  acquainted  with 
the  family  of  Joseph  Smith,  Sen.,  both  before  and  since  they 
became  Mormons,  and  feel  free  to  state  that  not  one  of  the  male 
members  of  the  Smith  family  were  entitled  to  any  credit  what- 
soever. They  were  lazy,  intemperate,  and  worthless  men  — 
very  much  addicted  to  lying.  In  this  they  frequently  boasted 
of  their  skill.  Digging  for  money  was  their  principal  employ- 
ment. In  regard  to  their  Gold  Bible  speculation,  they  scarcely 
ever  told  two  stories  alike." 

Abigail  Harris  made  the  following  affirmation,  which  is  sus- 
tained by  a  similar  one  from  Lucy,  the  wife  of  Martin  Harris : 


Palmyra,  Wayne  Co.,  N.  Y.,  11th  mo.  28,  1833. 

"  In  the  early  part  of  the  winter  in  1828  I  made  a  visit  to 
Martin  Harris's,  and  was  joined  in  company  by  Joseph  Smith, 
Sen.,  and  his  wife.  The  Gold  Bible  business,  so  called,  was  the 
topic  of  conversation,  to  which  I  paid  particular  attention,  that 
I  might  learn  the  truth  of  the  whole  matter.  They  told  me  that 
the  report  that  Joseph,  Jr.,  had  found  golden  plates  was  true, 
and  that  he  was  in  Harmony,  Pa.,  translating  them.  The  old 
lady  said,  also,  that  after  the  book  was  translated,  the  plates  were 
to  be  publicly  exhibited  —  admittance  twenty-five  cents.  She 
calculated  it  would  bring  in  annually  an  enormous  sum  of  money 
—  that  money  would  then  be  very  plenty,  and  the  book  would  also 
sell  for  a  great  price,  as  it  was  something  entirely  new  —  that 
they  had  been  commanded  to  obtain  all  the  money  they  could 
borrow  for  present  necessity,  and  to  repay  with  gold.  The  re- 
mainder was  to  be  kept  in  store  for  the  benefit  of  their  family 
and  children.  This  and  the  like  conversation  detained  me  till 
about  11  o'clock.  Early  the  next  morning,  the  mystery  of  the 
Spirit  (being  myself  one  of  the  order  called  Friends),  was  re- 
vealed by  the  following  circumstance :  —  The  old  lady  took  me 
into  another  room,  and  after  closing  the  door,  she  said,  '  Have 
you  four  or  five  dollars  in  money  that  you  can  lend  until  our 
business  is  brought  to  a  close?  the  Spirit  has  said  you  shall  re- 
ceive four-fold.'  I  told  her  that  when  I  gave,  I  did  it  not  expect- 
ing to  receive  again ;  as  for  money,  I  had  none  to  lend.  I  then 
asked  her  what  her  particular  want  of  money  was ;  to  which 
she  replied,  '  Joseph  wants  to  take  the  stage  and  come  home 
from  Pennsylvania  to  see  what  we  are  all  about.'  To  which  I 
replied,  he  might  look  in  his  stone  and  save  his  time  and  money. 
The  old  lady  seemed  confused,  and  left  the  room,  and  thus  ended 
the  visit. 

"  In  the  second  month  following,  Martin  Harris  and  his  wife 
were  at  my  house.  In  conversation  about  Mormonites,  she  ob- 
served that  she  wished  her  husband  would  quit  them,  as  she  be- 
lieved it  was  all  false  and  a  delusion.  To  which  I  heard  Mr.  Harris 
reply,  *  What  if  it  is  a  lie ;  if  you  will  let  me  alone  I  will  make 
money  out  of  it ! '  I  was  both  an  eye  and  an  ear  witness  of  what 
has  been  stated  above,  which  is  now  fresh  in  my  memory,  and  I 
give  it  to  the  world  for  the  good  of  mankind.  I  speak  the  truth 
and  lie  not,  God  bearing  me  witness. 

"  Abigail  Harris." 


Isaac  Hale,  of  Harmony,  Pa.,  with  whose  daughter  the 
Prophet  eloped,  did  not,  as  will  be  seen  by  what  follows,  hold  his 
son-in-law  in  very  high  esteem.  Joseph  seems  also  not  to  have 
made  a  favorable  impression  either  upon  his  brother-in-law,  Alva 
Hale,  or  upon  a  number  of  others  whose  statements  are  ap- 

Harmony,  Pa.,  March  20,  1834-. 

"  I  first  became  acquainted  with  Joseph  Smith,  Jr.,  in  Novem- 
ber, 1825.  He  was  at  that  time  in  the  employ  of  a  set  of  men 
who  were  called  '  money-diggers  ' ;  and  his  occupation  was  that 
of  seeing,  or  pretending  to  see  by  means  of  a  stone  placed  in  his 
hat,  and  his  hat  closed  over  his  face.  In  this  way  he  pretended 
to  discover  minerals  and  hidden  treasure. 

"  About  this  time,  young  Smith  made  several  visits  at  my 
house,  and  at  length  asked  my  consent  to  his  marrying  my  daugh- 
ter Emma.  This  I  refused,  and  gave  my  reasons  for  so  doing ; 
some  of  which  were,  that  he  was  a  stranger,  and  followed  a  busi- 
ness that  I  could  not  approve ;  he  then  left  the  place.  Not  long 
after  this  he  returned,  and,  while  I  was  absent  from  home,  carried 
off  my  daughter  into  the  State  of  New  York,  where  they  were 
married  without  my  approbation  or  consent. 

"  Soon  after  this  I  was  informed  they  had  brought  a  wonder- 
ful book  of  plates  down  with  them.  I  was  shown  a  box  in  which 
it  was  said  they  were  contained,  which  had,  to  all  appearance, 
been  used  as  a  glass  box  of  the  common  window  glass.  I  was 
allowed  to  feel  the  weight  of  the  box,  and  they  gave  me  to  under- 
stand that  the  book  of  plates  was  then  in  the  box  —  into  which, 
however,  I  was  not  allowed  to  look. 

"  I  inquired  of  Joseph  Smith,  Jr.,  who  was  to  be  the  first  who 
would  be  allowed  to  see  the  book  of  plates.  He  said  it  was  a 
young  child.  After  this  I  became  dissatisfied,  and  informed  him 
that  if  there  was  anything  in  my  house  of  that  description, 
which  I  could  not  be  allowed  to  see,  he  must  take  it  away ;  if  he 
did  not,  I  was  determined  to  see  it.  After  that  the  plates  were 
said  to  be  hid  in  the  woods. 

"  About  this  time  Martin  Harris  made  his  appearance  upon 
the  stage ;  and  Smith  began  to  interpret  the  characters,  or 
hieroglyphics  which  he  said  were  engraven  upon  the  plates,  while 
Harris  wrote  down  the  interpretation.  It  was  said  that  Harris 
wrote  down  one  hundred  and  sixteen  pages,  and  lost  them.* 
*  They  were  stolen  by  his  wife  while  he  was  sleeping,  and  burned. 


Soon  after  this  happened,  Martin  Harris  informed  me  that  he 
must  have  a  greater  witness,  and  said  that  he  had  talked  with 
Joseph  about  it  —  Joseph  informed  him  that  he  could  not,  or 
durst  not  show  him  the  plates,  but  that  he  (Joseph)  would  go 
into  the  woods  where  the  book  of  plates  was,  and  that  after  he 
came  back  Harris  should  follow  his  track  in  the  snow,  and  find  the 
book,  and  examine  it  for  himself.  Harris  informed  me  that  he 
followed  Smith's  directions  and  could  not  find  the  plates,  and  was 
still  dissatisfied. 

"  The  next  day  after  this  happened,  I  went  to  the  house  where 
Joseph  Smith,  Jr.,  lived,  and  where  he  and  Harris  were  engaged 
in  their  translation  of  the  book.  Each  of  them  had  a  written 
piece  of  paper  which  they  were  comparing,  and  some  of  the 
words  were,  '  My  servant  seeketh  a  greater  witness,  but  no 
greater  witness  can  be  given  him.'  There  was  also  something 
said  about '  three  that  were  to  see  the  thing '  —  meaning,  I  sup- 
posed, the  book  of  plates,  and  that  '  if  the  three  did  not 
go  exactly  according  to  the  orders,  the  thing  would  be 
taken  from  them.'  I  inquired  whose  words  they  were,  and 
was  informed  by  Joseph  or  Emma  (I  rather  think  it 
was  the  former)  that  they  were  the  words  of  Jesus  Christ. 
I  told  them  that  I  considered  the  whole  of  it  a  delusion, 
and  advised  them  to  abandon  it.  The  manner  in  which 
he  pretended  to  read  and  interpret  was  the  same  as  when 
he  looked  for  the  money-diggers,  with  the  stone  in  his 
hat,  and  his  hat  over  his  face,  while  the  book  was  at  the 
same   time   hid   in   the   woods. 

"  After  this,  Martin  Harris  went  away,  and  Oliver  Cowdery 
came  and  wrote  for  Smith,  while  he  interpreted,  as  above  de- 
scribed. This  is  the  same  Oliver  Cowdery  whose  name  may  be 
found  in  the  Book  of  Mormon.  Cowdery  continued  a  scribe  for 
Smith  until  the  Book  of  Mormon  was  completed,  as  I  supposed 
and  understood. 

"  Joseph  Smith,  Jr.,  resided  near  me  for  some  time  after  this, 
and  I  had  a  good  opportunity  of  becoming  acquainted  with  him, 
and  somewhat  acquainted  with  his  associates,  and  I  conscienti- 
ously believe,  from  the  facts  I  have  detailed,  and  from  many 
other  circumstances,  which  I  do  not  deem  it  necessary  to  relate, 
that  the  whole  '  Book  of  Mormon  '  (so  called)  is  a  silly  fabrica- 
tion of  falsehood  and  wickedness,  got  up  for  speculation,  and 
with  a  design  to  dupe  the  credulous  and  unwary  —  and  in  order 


that  its  fabricators  may  live  upon  the  spoils  of  those  who  swallow 
the  deception. 

"  Isaac  Hale." 

"  Affirmed  to  and  subscribed  before  me,  March  20,  1834. 

"  Charles   Dimon, 
"  Justice  of  the  Peace." 

"  Alva  Hale,  son  of  Isaac  Hale,  states  that  Joseph  Smith,  Jr., 
told  him  that  his  (Smith's)  gift  in  seeing  with  a  stone  and  hat, 
'  was  a  gift  from  God,'  but  also  states  '  that  Smith  told  him,  at 
another  time,  that  this  peeping  was  all  d  —  d  nonsense.  He 
(Smith)  was  deceived  himself,  but  did  not  intend  to  deceive 
others;  that  he  intended  to  quit  the  business  (of  peeping)  and 
labor  for  his  livelihood.'  That  afterward  Smith  told  him  he 
should  see  the  plates  from  which  he  translated  the  Book  of  Mor- 
mon, and  accordingly,  at  the  time  specified  by  Smith,  he  (Hale) 
called  to  see  the  plates,  but  Smith  did  not  show  them,  but  ap- 
peared angry.  He  further  states  that  he  knows  Joseph  Smith, 
Jr.,  to  be  an  impostor  and  a  liar,  and  knows  Martin  Harris  to 
be  a  liar  likewise. 

"  Levi  Lewis  states,  that  he  has  been  acquainted  with  Joseph 
Smith,  Jr.,  and  Martin  Harris,  and  that  he  has  heard  them  both 
say  adultery  was  no  crime.  Harris  said  he  did  not  blame 
Smith  for  his  (Smith's)  attempt  to  seduce  E.  W.,  etc.  Mr. 
Lewis  sa}Ts  that  he  knows  Smith  to  be  a  liar ;  —  that  he  saw 
him  (Smith)  intoxicated  at  three  different  times  while  he  was 
composing  the  Book  of  Mormon,  and  also  that  he  has  heard 
Smith,  when  driving  oxen,  use  language  of  the  greatest  profan- 
ity. Mr.  Lewis  also  testifies,  that  he  heard  Smith  say  he 
(Smith)  was  as  good  as  Jesus  Christ;  —  that  it  was  as  bad  to 
injure  him  as  it  was  to  injure  Jesus  Christ.  With  regard  to  the 
plates,  Smith  said  God  had  deceived  him  —  which  was  the  reason 
he  (Smith)  did  not  show  them. 

"  Sophia  Lewis  certifies,  that  she  heard  a  conversation  between 
Joseph  Smith,  Jr.,  and  the  Rev.  James  B.  Roach,  in  which  Smith 
called  Mr.  R.  a  d  —  d  fool.  Smith  also  said  in  the  same  con- 
versation, that  he  (Smith)  was  as  good  as  Jesus  Christ;  and  that 
she  has  frequently  heard  Smith  use  profane  language.  She 
states  that  she  heard  Smith  say  the  book  of  plates  could  not  be 
opened  under  penalty  of  death,  by  any  other  person  but  his 
(Smith's)  first-born,  which  was  to  be  a  male.     She  says  she  was 


present  at  the  birth  of  this  child,  and  that  it  was  still-born  and 
very  much  deformed." 

The  manuscript  of  the  Book  of  Mormon  was  at  last  completed ; 
somewhere,  somehow,  either  in  New  York  or  Pennsylvania,  and 
with  or  without  the  assistance  of  Martin  Harris.  With  its 
completion  arose  the  question  of  printing  and  publishing.  Har- 
ris was  enthusiastically  in  favor  of  giving  the  new  revelation 
to  the  world.  As  he  was  expected  to  furnish  means  to  pay  the 
printer,  and  as  he  was,  perhaps,  the  only  genuine  believer  in  the 
doctrines  to  be  promulgated,  his  wishes  were  seconded  by  Smith, 
Rigdon,  and  Cowdery.  But  cupidity  was  about  as  strong  an 
element  in  his  composition  as  credulity,  and  so  the  honest  and 
benevolent,  but  money-loving  fanner,  proposed  to  avail  himself 
of  the  wisdom  of  others  before  embarking  in  the  publication 
scheme.  He  first  consulted  his  wife,  a  Quakeress,  with  a  mind 
of  her  own,  from  whom  he  got,  as  men  usually  do  from  similar 
sources,  the  very  best  kind  of  counsel  and  admonition.  She  de- 
nounced the  whole  scheme  as  silly  and  impious,  and  told  him  he 
was  being  imposed  upon,  and  likely  to  be  defrauded.  Burns 
has  told  us 

"  How  many  lengthened,  sage  advices, 
The  husband  frae  the  wife  despises." 

Harris  called  her  a  fool  and  a  woman  (she  could  pardon  the 
first  designation,  but  not  the  last),  and  he  said:  "  What  if  it  is  a 
fraud,  so  long  as  I  make  money  out  of  it?  "  Like  most  persons 
who  seek  advice,  he  only  wanted  such  as  comported  with  his 
own  preconceived  notions. 

Discarding  the  counsel  of  his  faithful  wife,  he  determined  to 
avail  himself  of  the  "  wisdom  of  learned  men  "  relative  to  the 
genuineness  of  the  plates  and  the  revelation  inscribed  thereon. 
He  first  consulted  the  village  jeweler  and  silversmith,  describing 
to  him  gold  leaves  of  a  certain  size,  thickness,  and  weight,  and 
asked  what  they  would  be  worth  if  genuine.  The  computation 
was  made,  but  seems  not  to  have  been  wholly  satisfactory.  To 
make  assurance  doubly  sure,  he  obtained  from  Smith  several 
pages  of  antique  characters  or  hieroglyphics  purporting  to  be 
exact  copies  from  the  golden  plates,  together  with  the  transla- 
tion thereof,  and  with  them  repaired  to  New  York  where  he 
solicited  the  scrutiny  of  a  number  of  gentlemen  whose  repute  as 


biblical  scholars  was  so  current  as  to  have  reached  the  crafty 
backwoodsman.  Believing  the  farmer,  though  otherwise,  ap- 
parently, a  man  of  sound  j  udgment,  to  be  a  religious  monomaniac, 
they  scouted  the  whole  thing  as  too  absurd  for  serious  considera- 
tion, and  commiserated  him  as  a  victim  of  fanaticism  and  fraud. 
Harris,  however,  stood  firmly  by  his  belief,  and  returned  their 
commiseration  four-fold,  declaring  them  to  be  "  a  stiff-necked 
and  rebellious  generation,"  and  quoting  against  them  one  of  his 
favorite  texts,  that  "  God  hath  chosen  the  foolish  things  of  the 
world  to  confound  the  wise."  What  one  of  the  scholars  applied 
to  by  Harris  thought  of  Joseph's  golden  phylacteries  and  the 
hieroglyphics  thereon  is  plainly  set  forth  in  the  following  letter : 

"  New  York,  Feb.  17,  1834-. 
"  The  whole  story  about  my  having  pronounced  the  Mormonite 
inscription  to  be  '  reformed  Egyptian  hieroglyphics  '  is  perfectly 
false.      Some  years  ago,  a  plain,  and,  apparently,  simple-hearted 
farmer,  called  upon  me,  with  a  note  from  Dr.  Mitchell,  of  our 
city,  now  deceased,  requesting  me  to  decipher,  if  possible,  a  paper 
which  the  farmer  would  hand  me,  and  which  Dr.  M.  confessed 
he  had  been  unable  to  understand.     Upon  examining  the  paper 
in  question,  I  soon  came  to  the  conclusion  that  it  was  all  a  trick, 
perhaps  a  hoax.     When  I  asked  the  person  who  brought  it  how 
he  obtained  the  writing,  he  gave  me,  as  far  as  I  can  now  recollect, 
the  following  account :  —  A  '  gold  book,'  consisting  of  a  number 
of  plates  of  gold,  fastened  together  in  the  shape  of  a  book  by 
wires  of  the  same  metal,  had  been  dug  up  in  the  northern  part  of 
the  State  of  New  York,  and,  along  with  the  book,  an  enormous 
pair  of  '  gold  spectacles ! '     These  spectacles  were  so  large,  that 
if  a  person  attempted  to  look  through  them  his  two  eyes  would 
have  to  be  turned  toward  one  of  the  glasses,  merely,  the  spectacles 
in  question  being  altogether  too  large  for  the  breadth  of  the 
human  face.     Whoever  examined  the  plates  through  the  spec- 
tacles was  enabled  not  only  to  read  them,  but  fully  to  understand 
their  meaning.     All  this  knowledge,  however,  was  confined  at 
that  time  to  a  young  man  who  had  the  trunk  containing  the 
book  and  spectacles  in  his  sole  possession.     This  young  man  was 
placed  behind  a  curtain,  in  the  garret  of  a  farm  house,  and, 
being  thus  concealed  from  view,  put  on  the  spectacles  occasion- 
ally, or  rather  looked  through  one  of  the  glasses,  deciphered  the 
characters  in  the  book,  and  having  committed  some  of  them  to 


paper,  handed  copies  from  behind  the  curtain  to  those  who  stood 
on  the  outside.  Not  a  word,  however,  was  said  about  the  plates 
having  been  deciphered  '  by  the  gift  of  God.'  Everything,  in 
this  way,  was  effected  by  the  large  pair  of  spectacles.  The 
farmer  added,  that  he  had  been  requested  to  contribute  a  sum  of 
money  toward  the  publication  of  the  '  golden  book,'  the  contents 
of  which  would,  as  he  had  been  assured,  produce  an  entire  change 
in  the  world,  and  save  it  from  ruin.  So  urgent  had  been  these 
solicitations,  that  he  intended  selling  his  farm  and  handing  over 
the  amount  received  to  those  who  wished  to  publish  the  plates. 
As  a  last  precautionary  step,  however,  he  had  resolved  to  come 
to  New  York  and  obtain  the  opinion  of  the  learned  about  the 
meaning  of  the  paper  which  he  brought  with  him,  and  which  had 
been  given  him  as  a  part  of  the  contents  of  the  book,  although 
no  translation  had  been  furnished  at  the  time  by  the  young  man 
with  the  spectacles.  On  hearing  this  odd  story,  I  changed  my 
opinion  about  the  paper,  and  instead  of  viewing  it  any  longer  as 
a  hoax  upon  the  learned,  I  began  to  regard  it  as  part  of  a 
scheme  to  cheat  the  farmer  of  his  money,  and  I  communicated  my 
suspicions  to  him,  warning  him  to  beware  of  rogues.  He  re- 
quested an  opinion  from  me  in  writing,  which,  of  course,  I  de- 
clined giving,  and  he  then  took  his  leave,  carrying  the  paper  with 
him.  This  paper  was,  in  fact,  a  singular  scrawl.  It  consisted 
of  all  kinds  of  crooked  characters,  disposed  in  columns,  and  had 
evidently  been  prepared  by  some  person  who  had  before  him,  at 
the  time,  a  book  containing  various  alphabets.  Greek  and  He- 
brew letters,  crosses  and  flourishes,  Roman  letters  inverted  or 
placed  sideways,  were  arranged  in  perpendicular  columns,  and 
the  whole  ended  in  a  rude  delineation  of  a  circle  divided  into 
various  compartments,  decked  with  various  strange  marks,  and 
evidently  copied  after  the  Mexican  calendar,  given  by  Humboldt, 
but  copied  in  such  a  way  as  not  to  betray  the  source  whence  it 
was  derived.  I  am  thus  particular,  as  to  the  contents  of  the 
paper,  inasmuch  as  I  have  frequently  conversed  with  my  friends 
on  the  subject  since  the  Mormonite  excitement  began,  and  well 
remember  that  the  paper  contained  anything  else  but  '  Egyp- 
tian hieroglyphics.'  Some  time  after,  the  farmer  paid  me  a 
second  visit.  He  brought  with  him  the  '  golden  book  '  in  print, 
and  offered  it  to  me  for  sale.  I  declined  purchasing.  He  then 
asked  permission  to  leave  the  book  with  me  for  examination.  I 
declined  receiving  it,  although  his  manner  was  strangely  urgent. 


I  adverted  once  more  to  the  roguery  which  had  been,  in  my  opin- 
ion, practised  upon  him,  and  asked  him  what  had  become  of  the 
gold  plates.  He  informed  me  that  they  were  in  a  trunk  with 
the  large  pair  of  spectacles.  I  advised  him  to  go  to  a  magis- 
trate and  have  the.  trunk  examined.  He  said  the  '  curse  of 
God '  would  come  upon  him  should  he  do  this.  On  my  pressing 
him,  however,  to  pursue  the  course  which  I  had  recommended, 
he  told  me  that  he  would  open  the  trunk  if  I  would  take  the 
'  curse  of  God  '  upon  myself.  I  replied  that  I  would  do  so  with 
the  greatest  willingness,  and  would  incur  every  risk  of  that 
nature,  provided  I  could  only  extricate  him  from  the  grasp  of 
rogues.     He  then  left  me. 

"  I  have  thus  given  you  a  full  statement  of  all  that  I  know 

respecting  the  origin  of  Mormonism,  and  must  beg  you,  as  a 

personal  favor,  to  publish  this  letter  immediately,  should  you 

find  my  name  mentioned  again  by  these  wretched  fanatics. 

"  Yours  respectfully,  Charles  Anthox, 


The  plain  talk  of  Professor  Anthon  availed  nothing  with  the 
farmer.  He  returned  to  Palmyra  more  intent  than  ever  upon 
spreading  abroad  the  good  tidings  which  he  firmly  believed  were 
contained  in  the  Book  of  Mormon.  But  for  his  faith  and 
fanaticism,  the  golden  legend  might  never  have  been  given  to 
mankind,  for  he  was  the  only  person  of  means  and  credit  who 
had  embraced  the  new  doctrine.  Accordingly,  with  a  view  to 
printing  and  publication,  Joseph  Smith,  his  brother  Hyrum, 
Oliver  Cowdery,  and  Harris,  paid  a  visit  early  in  the  summer  of 
1829  to  Egbert  Grandin,  at  that  time  a  printer  in  Palmyra,  and 
publisher  of  the  Wayne  Sentinel,  and  asked  his  price  for  print- 
ing and  binding  one  edition  of  three  thousand  copies  of  the  work. 
Harris  would  guarantee  payment  if  a  satisfactory  bargain 
could  be  struck.  Mr.  Grandin  declined  positively  to  entertain 
the  proposal,  and  in  the  presence  of  the  Smiths  and  Cowdery, 
advised  Harris,  who  was  his  friend,  to  have  nothing  to  do  with 
the  inchoate  revelation.  His  admonition  was  kindly  received 
but  stubbornly  dismissed  by  Harris,  and  resented  with  pious  in- 
dignation by  the  Smiths  and  Cowdery.  A  number  of  the  friends 
and  neighbors  of  Harris  tried  to  dissuade  him  from  his  pur- 
pose, and  for  a  time  he  seemed  to  waver  in  his  confidence  regard- 
ing the  legend,  but  the  Prophet  was  a  spell-binder,  and  his  arts 
were  crowned  with  ultimate  success. 


Mr.  Grandin  having  refused  to  reconsider  his  determination, 
though  earnestly  entreated  to  do  so,  application  was  next  made 
to  Thurlow  Weed,  then  editor  and  publisher  of  an  Anti-Masonic 
paper  in  Rochester,  and  several  sheets  of  the  manuscript  were 
submitted  to  him,  with  a  statement  of  the  whole  number  required 
to  be  printed  and  bound.  What  Mr.  Weed  thought  of  the 
scheme  is  here  given  in  his  own  words.  He  says :  "  After  read- 
ing a  few  chapters,  it  seemed  such  a  jumble  of  unintelligible 
absurdities  that  we  refused  the  work,  advising  Harris  not  to 
mortgage  his  farm  and  beggar  his  family."  Mr.  E.  F.  Mar- 
shall, of  Rochester,  was  then  applied  to,  and  gave  terms  for 
printing  and  binding  the  book,  agreeing  to  accept  Harris  as 
security  for  payment.  With  this  estimate,  Smith  and  his  com- 
panions returned  to  Palmyra,  and  assuring  Mr.  Grandin  that  the 
work  would  be  printed  by  Marshall  if  he  further  declined  it 
begged  him  to  reconsider  his  determination,  and  save  them  much 
inconvenience  and  cost  of  travel,  by  doing  it  near  their  homes,  as 
the  manuscript  was  to  be  delivered  at  the  office  in  the  morning 
and  after  examination  of  proof  taken  away  daily ;  they  holding  it 
to  be  sacred,  and  not  to  be  left  in  worldly  hands.  Upon  this  state- 
ment of  their  case,  Mr.  Grandin,  after  advising  with  a  number 
of  his  discrete  and  fair-minded  townsmen,  agreed  to  print  and 
bind  five  thousand  copies  of  the  Book  of  Mormon  for  the  sum  of 
three  thousand  dollars,  taking  a  bond  and  mortgage  on  the  farm 
of  Harris  as  security  for  payment.  The  contract  was  carried 
out  to  the  satisfaction  of  all  parties,  and  the  complete  edition 
was  delivered  early  in  the  summer  of  1830. 

A  difficulty  was  encountered  during  the  progress  of  the  work 
which  worried  the  Saints  not  a  little.  In  endeavoring  to  con- 
vince his  wife  of  the  desirability  of  assisting  in  "  the  work  of  the 
Lord,"  Harris  had  taken  to  his  house  and  shown  her  one 
hundred  and  sixteen  pages  of  the  manuscript,  probably  that 
portion  which  he  had  helped  to  copy.  The  gentle  dame,  acting 
in  what  she  believed  to  be  —  and  really  was  —  her  own  and  her 
husband's  interest,  crept  softly  out  of  bed  "  in  the  dead  watch 
and  middle  of  the  night,"  whilst  Martin  Harris  "  in  holy  matri- 
mony snored  away,"  and  reduced  the  writing  to  ashes.  This 
she  kept  a  profound  secret  until  after  the  book  was  published. 
Tricksters  are  the  first  to  suspect  trickery.  Smith  and  Harris 
believed  the  manuscript  to  have  been  stolen  by  wicked  and  de- 
signing men,  intent  upon  bringing  God's  will  to  naught,  and 


suspected  Mrs.  Harris  of  being  their  accomplice.  In  the  en- 
deavor to  extort  a  confession  from  her  by  Harris,  a  quarrel 
arose,  and  their  relations  as  husband  and  wife  were  sundered, 
never  to  be  renewed.  This  incident  clearly  establishes  the  fact 
that  the  Book  of  Mormon  was  not  a  translation  from  golden  or 
any  other  plates  in  the  possession  of  the  Prophet.  Had  it  been, 
they  would  simply  have  been  obliged  to  supply  the  missing  pages 
bv  a  retranslation.  But  fearing  these  were  still  in  existence 
and  might  be  brought  forward  to  show  that  their  work  was  not 
a  translation  of  the  revealed  will  of  the  Most  High,  but  the  craft 
of  knaves,  they  simply  ignored  that  portion  of  it  altogether. 
Had  they  undertaken  to  rewrite  it  from  memory,  comparisons 
might  have  shown  the  odious  fact  that  the  Supreme  Will  was 

The  Book  of  Mormon  was  launched,  but  was  not  favored  by 
prospering  gales.  To  transfer  the  simile  to  terra  firma,  the 
seed  fell  upon  a  rocky  and  barren  soil.  The  godly  regarded  it 
as  little  less  than  impious;  as  a  travesty  (which,  in  fact,  it  was) 
of  the  book  they  revered;  and  the  unregenerate  scoffed.  The 
result  was  that  outside  of  the  Saints,  who  numbered  less  than  a 
score,  and  perhaps  another  score  whose  curiosity  led  them  to  buy 
it,  it  was  dead  lumber  on  the  printer's  shelves.  Harris'  fine 
farm,  about  two  miles  from  Palmyra  village,  was  sold  —  by 
private  sale,  not  by  foreclosure  —  to  pay  the  printer.  The  his- 
torian is  pleased  to  state  that  Mrs.  Harris  declined  to  join  in 
the  mortgage,  and  that  upon  her  separation  from  her  husband, 
eighty  acres  of  land,  with  comfortable  buildings,  were  set  off  for 
her  personal  use  and  behoof.  It  may  be  mentioned  that,  while 
unalterably  hostile  to  her  husband's  fanatical  action,  she  held 
Mr.  Grandin  fully  justified,  under  the  circumstances,  in  under- 
taking the  printing  contract.  The  maid  with  the  milking  pail 
has  many  prototypes  of  the  sterner  sex  in  the  business  world. 
This  is  the  way  Harris  counted  his  unhatched  chickens :  5,000 
books  at  $1.25  per  copy,  is  $6,250  ;  cost  of  printing  and  binding, 
$3,000;  net  profit  $3,250,  or  more  than  100  per  cent.;  how  the 
thing  resulted  has  already  been  shown.  It  may  be  added  that 
when  the  Smiths  were  overtaken  —  as  they  often  were  — 
by  those  dire  necessities  known  as  food  and  raiment,  they 
bartered  the  sacred  volumes  to  supply  those  needs,  and  in  some 
cases  at  a  considerable  discount  from  the  trade  price,  although 
Harris  had  been  promised  a  monopoly  of  the  sales  until  he  was 


reimbursed,  and  the  penalty  of  instant  death  had  been  denounced 
against  anyone  who  should  sell  the  work  for  less  than  a  dollar 
and  a  quarter.  But  though  despised  and  rejected  by  the  friends 
and  neighbors  of  the  Prophet,  the  Book  of  Mormon  has  since 
gone  through  many  editions,  and  has  been  translated  into  a  num- 
ber of  foreign  languages.  Truly,  "  a  prophet  is  not  without 
honor  save  in  his  own  country,  and  in  his  own  house."  The 
title  page  is  as  follows : 



"  Wherefore  it  is  an  abridgment  of  the  Record  of  the  people 
of  Nephi ;  and  also  of  the  Lamanites ;  written  to  the  Lamanites, 
which  are  a  remnant  of  the  House  of  Israel;  and  also  to  Jew 
and  Gentile ;  written  by  way  of  commandment,  and  also  by  the 
spirit  of  prophecy  and  of  Revelation.  Written,  and  sealed  up, 
and  hid  up  unto  the  Lord,  that  they  might  not  be  destroyed ;  to 
come  forth  by  the  gift  and  power  of  God  unto  the  interpretation 
thereof ;  sealed  by  the  hand  of  Moroni,  and  hid  up  unto  the  Lord, 
to  come  forth  in  due  time  by  the  way  of  Gentile ;  the  interpreta- 
tion thereof  by  the  gift  of  God:  an  abridgment  taken  from  the 
Book  of  Ether. 

"  Also,  which  is  a  Record  of  the  People  of  Jared,  which  were 
scattered  at  the  time  the  Lord  confounded  the  language  of  the 
people  when  they  were  building  a  tower  to  get  to  Heaven ;  which 
is  to  show  unto  the  remnant  of  the  House  of  Israel  how  great 
things  the  Lord  hath  done  for  their  fathers ;  and  that  they  may 
know  the  covenants  of  the  Lord,  that  they  are  not  cast  off  for- 
ever; and  also  to  the  convincing  of  the  Jew  and  Gentile  that 
Jesus  is  the  Christ,  the  External  God,  manifesting  himself  unto 
all  nations.  And  now  if  there  be  fault,  it  be  the  mistake  of  men  ; 
wherefore  condemn  not  the  things  of  God,  that  ye  ma}7  be  found 
spotless  at  the  judgment  seat  of  Christ. 

"  By  Joseph  Smith,  Junior, 

"  Author  and  Proprietor. 

"  Palmyra : 

"  Printed  by  E.  B.  Grandin,  for  the  Author. 

"  1830." 


The  absurdity  of  calling  Smith  the  author  of  a  Divine  revela- 
tion was  omitted  in  revised  editions  printed  at  Nauvoo  and  Salt 
Lake.  The  first  edition  contained  the  following  cautionary 
notice,  having  reference  to  the  manuscript  burned  by  Mrs. 
Harris : 

"  To  the  Reader  — 

"  As  many  false  reports  have  been  circulated  respecting  the 
following  work,  and  also  many  unlawful  measures  taken  by  evil- 
designing  persons  to  destroy  me,  and  also  the  work,  I  would  in- 
form you  that  I  translated,  by  the  gift  and  power  of  God,  and 
caused  to  be  written,  one  hundred  and  sixteen  pages,  the  which  I 
took  from  the  Book  of  Lehi,  which  was  an  account  abridged 
from  the  plates  of  Lehi,  by  the  hand  of  Mormon ;  which  said  ac- 
count some  person  or  persons  have  stolen  and  kept  from  me, 
notwithstanding  my  utmost  exertions  to  recover  it  again  — 
and  being  commanded  of  the  Lord  that  I  should  not 
translate  the  same  over  again,  for  Satan  had  put  it  into 
their  hearts  to  tempt  the  Lord  their  God,  by  altering  the 
words,  that  they  did  read  contrary  from  that  which  I 
translated  and  caused  to  be  written ;  and  if  I  should  bring 
forth  the  same  words  again,  or,  in  other  words,  if  I  should 
translate  the  same  over  again,  they  would  publish  that 
which  they  had  stolen,  and  Satan  would  stir  up  the  hearts 
of  this  generation,  that  they  might  not  receive  this  work: 
but  behold,  the  Lord  said  unto  me,  I  will  not  suffer  that 
Satan  shall  accomplish  his  evil  design  in  this  thing;  there- 
fore thou  shalt  translate  from  the  plates  of  Nephi,  until 
ye  come  to  that  which  ye  have  translated,  which  ye  have 
retained,  and  behold,  ye  shall  publish  it  as  the  record  of 
Nephi ;  and  thus  I  will  confound  those  who  have  altered 
my  words.  I  will  not  suffer  that  they  shall  destroy  rny 
work ;  yea,  I  will  show  unto  them  that  my  wisdom  is  greater 
than  the  cunning  of  the  devil.  Wherefore,  to  be  obedient  unto 
the  commandments  of  God,  I  have,  through  His  grace  and  mercy, 
accomplished  that  which  He  hath  commanded  me  respecting  this 
thing.  I  would  also  inform  you  that  the  plates  of  which  hath 
been  spoken,  were  found  in  the  township  of  Manchester,  Ontario 
County,  New  York. 

The  Author. 



No.  of 

The  first  book  of  Nephi, 7 

The  second  book  of  Nephi, 15 

The  book  of  Jacob,  the  brother  of  Nephi, 5 

The  book  of  Enos, 1 

The  book  of  Jarom, 1 

The  book  of  Omni, 1 

The  words  of  Mormon, 1 

The  book  of  Mosiah, 13 

The  book  of  Alma, 30 

The  book  of  Helamon, 5 

The  book  of  Nephi,  who  was  the  son  of  Helamon,       ...        14 
The  book  of  Nephi,  who  is  the  son  of  Nephi,  one  of  the  dis- 
ciples of  Jesus  Christ, 1 

Book  of  Mormon, '4 

Book  of  Ether, 6 

The  Book  of  Moroni, 10 

The  corner  stone  of  the  Church  of  the  Latter-Day  Saints  may 
be  said  to  have  been  laid  by  the  publication  of  the  Gold  Bible, 
but  the  superstructure  was  not  raised  in  the  Genesee  Country. 
A  few  meetings  were  held  in  the  log  cabin  of  the  Prophet,  at 
which  neither  singing,  prayer,  or  preaching  were  attempted, 
the  exercises  being  limited  to  readings  from  the  new  bible,  with 
interpretations  and  comments  by  Joseph.  The  Rev.  Sidney 
Rigdon  preached  one  sermon  in  Palmyra,  in  the  hall  of  the 
Young  Men's  Association.  Martin  Harris  vainly  endeavored  to 
secure  a  church  for  this  performance.  Christian  people  re- 
garded the  Mormons  as  blasphemers,  and  their  services  as  little 
short  of  rank  impiety.  Pomeroy  Tucker,  who  listened  to  the 
sermon,  thus  describes  his  impressions :  "  Altogether,  though 
evidencing  some  talent  and  ingenuity  in  its  matter  and  manner, 
and  delivered  with  startling  boldness  and  seeming  sincerity,  the 
performance  was,  in  the  main,  an  unintelligible  jumble  of  quota- 
tions, assertions,  and  obscurities,  which  was  received  by  the 
audience  as  shockingly  blasphemous  as  it  was  painful  to  hear. 
The  manifestations  of  disfavor  were  so  unequivocal  that  Harris 
assented  to  the  suggestion  of  his  "  Gentile  "  friends,  that  no 
further  request  be  made  for  the  use  of  the  hall,  and  regular 
preaching  on  the  Mormon  plan  was  never  again  attempted  in 


Palmyra  by  Rigdon  or  any  other  man,  according  to  my  recol- 
lection." * 

The  reception  of  the  new  doctrine  was  not  at  all  satisfactory 
to  the  Saints.  Financially,  it  was  a  failure,  and  Joe's  assertion 
that  he  had  invented  a  scheme  by  which  he  could  live  without 
work  seemed  likely  to  prove  fallacious.  The  seed  indeed  fell 
upon  stony  ground.  The  majority  of  Smith's  neighbors  were 
orthodox,  devout,  God-fearing  men,  to  whom  the  new  doctrine 
seemed  sacrilegious.  The  remainder  was  composed  of  those  who, 
finding  it  hard  to  believe  the  myths,  miracles,  and  fables  of  the 
Scriptures,  yet  preserved  a  reverent  attitude  toward  all  honestly 
entertained  beliefs,  and  those  occasional  agnostics  who,  rejecting 
all  revelation,  and  especially  the  last  one,  maintained  toward 
Smith  and  his  followers  an  attitude  of  jeering  but  not  ill-natured 
hostility.  A  community  so  composed  did  not  furnish  material 
for  successful  proselytizing.  Not  more  than  thirty  heads  of 
families  had  embraced  the  faith  up  to  the  time  a  removal  west- 
ward had  been  resolved  on.  But  among  the  converts  was  a  man 
of  signal  influence  and  ability,  the  Rev.  Parley  P.  Pratt,  of 
Loraine  County,  Ohio,  who  debarked  from  a  canal  boat  at  Pal- 
myra long  enough  to  espouse  the  new  faith,  and  remained  for 
many  years  one  of  the  pillars  of  the  Morman  hierarchy.  Rigdon 
and  Pratt  "  Prepared  the  way  of  the  Lord  "  by  preaching  the 
new  doctrine  at  Mentor  and  Kirtland,  Ohio,  where  it  was  more 
favorably  received  than  in  the  neighborhood  of  its  origin.  In 
the  later  part  of  the  year  1830,  the  Smiths,  Cowdery,  Harris, 
the  Whitmers,  and  other  original  Latter-Day  Saints,  shaking  the 
dust  from  their  shoes  as  a  testimony  against  the  Gentiles  of  the 
Genesee,  prepared  for  their  heglra  to  Ohio. 

Just  at  this  juncture  it  became  evident  that  an  unmarried 
sister  of  the  Prophet  would  before  very  long  make  a  contribution 
to  the  census  of  that  year.  Joe  immediately  had  a  revelation 
from  on  high  that  the  conception  was  immaculate,  and  that  the 
Gentile  world  was  to  be  astonished  by  the  birth  of  a  new  Prophet, 

Priest,  and  King.  Martin  Harris  and  the  others  loudly  inquired, 
"  Why  not?  "  A  question  much  easier  to  ask  than  to  answer.  If 
this  thing  could  happen  in  the  first  century,  why  not  in  the  nine- 
teenth?    "  The  power  of  the  Highest  shall  overshadow  thee," 

might  as  well  be  spoken  to  a  Gentile  maiden  in  Western  New 

*  This  reminds  me  of  the  low  comedian  who  said  he  had  played  King  Lear, 
but  never  twice  in  the  same  city. 


York  as  to  a  Jewish  one  in  Nazareth!  To  gainsay  this  is  to 
deny  to  the  Deity  the  first  and  greatest  of  his  attributes  —  om- 
nipotence. No  one  believing  in  the  first  advent  could  deny  the 
possibility  of  a  second,  and  the  probabilities  in  either  case  seem 
about  evenly  balanced.  But  there  were  people  ungenerous 
enough  to  allude  to  the  fact  that  the  Rev.  Sidney  Rigdon  had 
been  an  inmate  of  the  Smith  family  at  various  times  for  more 
than  a  year.  Proceeding  from  scoffers  and  the  unregenerate, 
such  allusions  were  held  by  the  Saints  to  be  no  reproach.  How- 
ever begotten,  the  child  was  a  female,  and  lived  but  a  few  hours. 
The  Prophet  satisfied  Harris  and  the  others  by  telling  them  that 
Divine  wrath  had,  in  this  way,  punished  some  act  of  Mormon 

Reinforced  by  the  arrivals  from  Wayne  and  Ontario  counties, 
and  by  the  active  labors  of  Smith,  Harris,  Cowdery,  and  the 
others,  the  ministrations  of  Pratt  and  Rigdon  were  blessed  by 
the  ingathering  of  more  than  a  hundred  converts  to  the  new 
revelation,  and  Kirtland,  for  a  time  became  the  chief  seat  of  the 
Mormon  colon}',  and  it  was  here  that  their  Church  was  thor- 
oughly organized  and  established.  Here  Brigham  Young, 
the  great  ruler  and  organizer,  the  man  who,  after  the  death  of  the 
Prophet,  swayed  with  autocratic  power  the  destinies  of  the  hier- 
archy, was  converted  and  joined  the  society  in  1832.  The  State 
of  Vermont  has  the  honor,  if  any  it  be,  of  being  the  birthplace  of 
the  founder  of  the  Mormon  faith,  and  of  his  much  abler  succes- 
sor. Brigham's  early  training  was  on  his  father's  farm, 
among  the  green  hills.  On  his  removal  to  the  State  of  New  York, 
he  followed  the  trade  of  a  painter  and  glazier,  which  was  his 
occupation  when  he  joined  the  Mormons  at  Kirtland,  in  1832. 
A  born  leader,  with  an  intuitive  knowledge  of  human  character, 
capable  of  swaying  masses  of  men  by  the  power  of  an  electric 
will,  Young,  from  the  start,  was  an  influential  and  prominent 
man  in  Mormon  affairs.  When  the  High  Council  of  the  Church, 
consisting  of  twelve  high  priests,  was  organized,  Young  was 
ordained  one  of  the  number,  and  soon  after  was  elected  president 
of  the  Council.  Had  his  ambition  led  him  to  supersede  Smith, 
there  is  little  doubt  that  he  could  have  done  so,  but  Mormonism 
was  yet  an  experiment,  and  he  bided  his  time.  And  here  at 
Kirtland  the  Church  was  strengthened  by  the  admission  to  mem- 
bership of  two  of  its  ablest  advocates  and  defenders,  Orson  Pratt 
and  Orson  Hyde. 


The  Church  being  now  organized  and  established,  the  next  move 
of  the  Prophet  was  to  secure  funds  for  its  endowment  and  sup- 
port, and  here  the  system  of  tithing  was  adopted,  which,  en- 
larged and  strengthened  by  Young,  has  been  continued  up  to  the 
present  time.  Ex-Governor  Harding,  of  Utah,  says :  "  Every- 
thing is  subject  to  this  system,  from  the  tenth  egg  to  the  tenth 
ox,  from  the  tenth  cent  to  the  tenth  dollar;  the  poor  girl  who 
works  out  by  the  week  and  the  rich  farmer  and  money-lender 
being  alike  subject  to  this  indiscriminate  levy  *  in  the  Lord's 
name.'  "  The  revelations  to  Joseph  on  this  head  were  numerous 
and  to  the  point.  Here  is  one  of  them :  "  In  answer  to  the  ques- 
tion, '  O,  Lord,  show  unto  thy  servants  how  much  thou  requirest 
of  the  properties  for  a  tithing?  '  verily  thus  saith  the  Lord:  '  I 
require  all  the  surplus  property  to  be  put  into  the  hands  of  the 
bishop  of  my  Church  of  Zion,  for  the  building  of  mine  house,  and 
for  the  priesthood,  and  for  the  debts  of  the  presidency  of  my 
Church,  and  this  shall  be  the  beginning  of  the  yearly  tithing  of 
my  people,'  et  cetera."  No  circumlocution  about  that.  An- 
other revelation  directs  "  That  all  the  monies  which  can  be 
spared,  it  mattereth  not  whether  it  be  little  or  much,  be  sent  up  to 
the  land  of  Zion,  unto  those  whom  I  have  appointed  to  receive ;  " 
and  another  declares  that  "  Those  which  shall  not  observe  this 
law  [of  tithing]  shall  not  be  found  worthy  to  abide  among  you." 
Still  another  commands  the  faithful  to  "  Build  a  house  in  which 
my  servant  Joseph  shall  live  and  translate,  and  to  furnish  and 
support  the  same,  it  being  my  will  that  my  servant  shall 
live  without  labor."  Joe  had  at  last  solved  the  problem  how  to 
escape  the  penalty  denounced  against  Adam.  And  not  this 
alone:  stimulated  by  revelations  which  his  dupes  sincerely  be- 
lieved to  be  Divine  emanations  they  erected  at  Kirtland  a  temple 
which  cost,  in  money  and  freely  contributed  labor  and  materials, 
over  fifty  thousand  dollars.  A  dwelling  for  the  Prophet  was 
built  and  furnished,  and  money  and  valuable  personal  property 
flowed  in  from  the  system  of  tithes.  He  established  a  bank, 
built  a  flouring  mill,  and  opened  a  store. 

Notwithstanding  these  appearances  of  prosperity  and  perma- 
nency, it  soon  became  evident  that  Kirtland  was  not  to  be  the 
abiding  place  of  the  Saints.  They  did  not  live  upon  good  terms 
with  their  neighbors.  The  orthodoxy  of  Northern  Ohio  exe- 
crated and  spat  upon  the  Mormon  creed,  and  scorned  the  im- 
postors who  originated  it.     Aside  from  questions  of  belief,  the 


Saints  were  accused  of  immoral  and  criminal  practices,  contrary 
to  good  order  and  good  neighborhood.  The  demeanor  of  the 
leaders  was  exasperating  and  defiant.  As  in  the  case  of  an  Irish 
coachman  who  had  helped  to  disperse  a  parade  of  Orangemen  and 
returned  to  his  duties  bearing  upon  his  person  visible  signs  of 
the  encounter,  and  who  was  asked  by  his  employer  why  the  love 
of  God  made  him  hate  his  neighbor,  and  why  he  could  not  con- 
cede to  others  what  he  demanded  for  himself  —  freedom  of  opin- 
ion ?  "  '  Dade,  sor,"  was  the  reply,  "  it  was  not  their  religion  at 
all,  at  all,  that  roused  me  passion,  it  was  the  irritatin'  music ;  " 
the  band  was  playing  the  "  Battle  of  the  Boyne  "  as  they  passed 
by. —  And  so  it  was,  perhaps,  the  "  irritatin'  "  bearing  of  the 
Saints,  rather  than  their  teachings,  which,  at  Kirtland  and  else- 
where during  their  long  career,  made  them  objects  of  popular 

Whatever  may  have  been  their  reasons  for  removal,  the  com- 
munity, after  a  sojourn  of  less  than  two  years  in  Ohio,  decided 
that  the  promised  land  was  nearer  the  setting  sun,  and  deter- 
mined upon  a  change  of  locality.  Rigdon  and  Cowdery  were 
sent  forth  as  explorers,  and  on  their  return  from  an  extended 
tour,  reported  in  favor  of  the  State  of  Missouri  as  the  future 
home  and  Zion  of  the  faithful.  The  Prophet  having  visited  and 
approved  of  the  locality  selected,  a  revelation  to  his  followers 
commanded  them  to  "  Remove  unto  the  land  appointed  and  con- 
secrated for  the  gathering  of  the  Saints,  wherefore  this  is  the 
land  of  promise,  and  the  place  for  the  City  of  Zion.  Behold, 
the  place  now  called  Independence  is  in  the  center,  and  the  spot 
for  the  temple  is  lying  westward  upon  a  lot  not  far  from  the 
Court  House;  wherefore,  it  is  wisdom  that  the  land  should  be 
purchased  by  my  people,  and  also  my  tract  lying  westward,  even 
unto  the  line  running  between  the  Lamanite  and  Gentile,  and  also 
my  tract  bordering  by  the  prairies,  inasmuch  as  my  disciples  are 
enabled  to  buy  land."  They  are  further  directed  to  "  send  up 
treasures  "  and  are  promised  "  an  inheritance  in  this  world," 
and  that  "  their  works  shall  follow  them."  Need  it  be  told  that 
a  large  tract  of  land  was  selected  and  purchased,  a  town  site 
laid  out  which  the  energy  and  self-sacrificing  industry  of  these 
people  soon  built  up,  and  early  in  1834  a  majority  of  the  breth- 
ren had  become  residents  of  the  flourishing  town  of  Independ- 
ence, Jackson  County,  Missouri.  A  few,  however,  chiefly  those 
with  families   and  material  interests,  remained  at  Kirtland  to 


work  farms,  dispose  of  them  and  other  property,  and  better  pre- 
pare for  removal  to  the  new  colony.  Among  those  who  tarried 
in  Ohio  were  Pratt  and  Young.  After  seeing  the  new  settle- 
ment well  under  way,  Smith  returned  and  joined  them,  for  the 
purpose,  he  said,  of  "  making  money  for  the  benefit  of  the 
Church."  Having  a  commodious,  well-furnished  dwelling,  a 
bank,  a  mill,  and  a  store,  he  was  in  no  hurry  to  part  with  them, 
evidently  thinking  they  were  the  result  of  his  own  business 
capacity,  and  not  what  they  really  were,  the  creation  of  revela- 
tions and  tithes.  The  outcome  was  soon  reached.  His  bank 
exploded,  his  mill  stopped,  and  the  shutters  were  put  up  at  his 
store  and  not  taken  down.  Secularly  he  was  a  failure.  With- 
out a  hundred  credulous  fools  to  pour  into  his  lap  one-tenth  of 
all  their  earnings  he  would  have  starved  in  the  streets  or  have 
gone  back  to  fishing,  fortune-telling,  and  trapping  for  a  living. 
Popular  indignation  rose  high  at  Kirtland  against  him  and  his 
religious  pretensions.  Hastily  collecting  his  portable  effects, 
and  disposing  to  the  best  advantage  of  those  which  could  not  be 
removed,  he  departed  for  the  promised  land  in  Missouri.  Young 
fled  with  him.  This  was  in  1835.  The  panic  of  1836-37  struck 
Joseph  a  year  in  advance.  In  1838,  he  and  Rigdon,  being  at 
Kirtland  together,  were  arrested  on  charges  of  swindling  in 
connection  with  their  wild-cat  bank  and  other  fraudulent  schemes. 
They  escaped  from  the  sheriff  at  night  and  made  their  way  to 
Missouri  on  horseback.  Smith's  account  of  the  affair,  as  pub- 
lished in  the  Mormon  newspaper  at  Independence,  was  to  the 
effect  that  they  "  left  Kirtland  to  escape  mob  violence,  with 
which  they  were  threatened  under  color  of  legal  process,  and  were 
followed  more  than  two  hundred  miles  by  hellhounds  armed  with 
knives  and  pistols." 

The  Saints'  rest  was  not  found  in  Missouri.  Their  neighbors 
in  that  State  were,  to  a  great  extent,  a  different  people  from 
those  left  behind  in  Western  New  York  and  Northern  Ohio.  The 
Missourians  of  that  period  can  hardly  be  called  an  orthodox 
and  law-abiding  people.  The  rougher  elements  of  border  civiliz- 
ation were  prominent  if  not  predominant,  and  with  these  the 
Saints  were  soon  in  collision.  It  requires  no  prophet  to  foretell 
the  result.  After  a  few  years  of  almost  continuous  warfare 
with  the  citizens  and  public  authorities  of  the  State,  in  which 
blood  was  shed  on  both  sides,  the  Mormons  were  banished.  There 
is  little  doubt  that  they  were  badly  treated.     Missouri  had  no 


right  to  interfere  with  their  form  of  worship,  and  if  her  statutes 
were  broken  or  disregarded,  punishment  should  have  been  meeted 
out  under  the  forms  of  law  and  not  by  mob  violence.  But  the 
Mormons  had  to  go,  and  did  go,  and  on  this  occasion  they  went 
east  instead  of  west.  Before  tracing  them  to  their  new  homes 
in  Illinois,  let  us  hear  some  of  the  reasons  given  for  their  ex- 
pulsion from  Missouri.  General  Clark,  commander  of  the  State 
militia,  in  a  dispatch  to  Gov.  Baggs,  dated  November  10,  1838, 
said :  "  There  is  no  crime  from  treason  down  to  petit  larcency, 
but  these  people,  or  a  majority  of  them,  have  been  guilty  of  — 
all,  too,  under  the  counsel  of  Joseph  Smith,  Jr.,  their  Prophet. 
They  have  committed  treason,  murder,  arson,  burglary,  robbery, 
larceny,  and  perjury.  They  have  formed  societies  to  circum- 
vent the  laws  and  put  them  at  defiance,  and  to  plunder,  burn,  and 
murder  and  divide  the  spoils  for  the  use  of  their  Church."  A 
formidable  indictment,  truly,  and  drawn  with  genuine  South- 
western luridity!  Let  us  further  hear  from  the  Governor  on 
this  subject.  In  a  special  communication  to  the  Legislature, 
after  the  Mormons  had  been  assisted  over  the  border,  he  says : 
"  These  people  had  violated  the  laws  of  the  land  by  open  force 
and  avowed  resistance  to  them;  they  had  undertaken,  without 
the  aid  of  the  civil  authority,  to  redress  their  real  or  fancied 
grievances ;  they  had  instituted  among  themselves  a  government 
of  their  own,  independent  of  and  in  opposition  to  the  government 
of  this  State,  that  had,  at  an  inclement  season  of  the  year, 
driven  the  inhabitants  of  an  entire  county  from  their  homes, 
ravaged  their  crops  and  destroyed  their  dwellings.*  Under 
these  circumstances  it  became  the  imperious  (?)  duty  of  the 
Executive  to  interfere  and  exercise  the  powers  with  which  he 
was  (?)  invested,  to  protect  the  lives  and  property  of  our  citi- 
zens, to  restore  order  and  tranquillity  to  the  country,  and  main- 
tain the  supremacy  of  the  laws."  And  let  us  also  hear  what  an 
unprejudiced  historian  has  to  say  anent  these  troubles:  "By 
enlightened  people  the  Mormons  were  regarded  as  the  victims 
of  misguided  vengeance  in  Missouri.  The  ruffianly  violence 
they  met  at  the  hands  of  lawless  mobs,  in  several  instances  re- 
sulting in  deliberate  murder,  finds  no  extenuation  in  any  real 
provocation.  Due  process  of  law  afforded  adequate  redress  for 
any  criminalities  of  which  they  might  be  found  guilty  after 

*  What  were  the  ancestors  of  the  James  and  Younger  boys  doing  all  this  time  ? 


legal  trial."*  But  they  had  to  go.  Time  was  not  even  given 
them  to  settle  up  their  affairs.  So  determined  were  the  people  of 
Missouri  to  be  rid  of  them,  that  commissioners  were  appointed 
by  the  Governor  to  sell  their  property,  pay  their  debts,  and  aid 
them  in  getting  away.  The  Legislature  appropriated  two  thou- 
sand dollars  for  this  purpose,  and  liberal  contributions  to  hasten 
their  exodus  were  made  by  individuals. 

By  the  end  of  1839,  the  Saints  had  established  themselves  at 
a  point  on  the  Mississippi  River,  in  Hancock  County,  Illinois, 
which  they  named  Xauvoo.  As  usually  happens,  persecution 
seemed  to  replenish  their  ranks,  and  inflame  their  zeal.  Reve- 
lations fell  thick  and  fast  from  the  pen  of  the  Prophet,  and 
money,  material,  and  labor  flowed  in  abundantly.  In  less  than 
two  years  a  handsome  town  was  built  on  the  banks  of  the  great 
river,  and  its  inhabitants  were  generally  well  received  by  the 
people  of  the  surrounding  country.  In  1842  a  liberal  city 
charter  was  granted  to  Xauvoo  by  the  Legislature  of  Illinois. 
The  privilege  of  organizing  a  strong  military  force  was  among 
the  extraordinary  powers  conceded  by  this  charter.  An  armed 
force  of  over  4,000  men  was  enrolled  by  the  Prophet,  who  took 
command  with  the  title  of  General.  He  evidently  did  not  intend 
to  be  again  driven  forth  by  hostile  neighbors.  The  church  mili- 
tant was  henceforth  to  be  the  church  triumphant.  Mormonism 
now  flourished  as  never  before.  Accessions  poured  in  from  all 
quarters  at  home  and  from  abroad.  Pratt  and  Young  had  been 
sent  to  Europe  to  proselytize  and  spread  the  new  gospel.  In  the 
spring  of  1841,  Young  embarked  at  Liverpool  with  769  of  the 
faithful  for  the  promised  land,  and  additions  from  that  source 
continue  up  to  the  present.  The  number  of  Saints  in  X'auvoo  at 
this  time  was  estimated  to  be  from  12,000  to  15,000.  The  Xauvoo 
house  was  built,  "  where  the  weary  traveler  may  find  rest  and 
health  therein."  Suites  of  well-furnished  rooms  were  appropri- 
ated to  the  use  of  the  Prophet  and  his  family,  free  of  all  ex- 
pense. He  was  now  Commander  of  the  Legion,  Mayor  of  the 
City,  and  High  Priest  of  the  Theocracy.  His  fortune  swelled 
him**  to  such  an  extent  that  he  proposed  to  become  a  candidate 
for  the  presidency,  and  gravely  opened  a  correspondence  with 
Messrs.  Clay  and  Calhoun  in  regard  to  the  policy  he  ought  to 

*  Pomeroy  Tucker's  "  History  of  Mormonism." 

**"  His  fortune  swells  him — its  rank  he's  married,"  says  Sir  Giles  Overreach 
in  the  play.     Joe  was  very  much  married. 


pursue  if  elected.  Describing  his  position  at  this  time,  Mr. 
Tucker  says :  "  From  the  vagabondish,  taciturn  '  Joe  Smith  '  at 
the  inception  of  the  Mormon  scheme,  he  had  become  the  rubi- 
cund, genial,  affluent,  autocrat  Prophet  of  220  pounds  avoirdu- 
pois, with  forty  wives,  all  told."*  The  same  season  that  saw 
the  completion  of  the  Nauvoo  house  witnessed  the  laying  of  the 
corner  stone  of  a  temple  which  cost,  when  finished,  a  million  dol- 
lars. How  the  money  was  raised  for  these  structures  may  be 
learned  from  the  following  revelations  to  the  people  through 
their  Prophet.  Though  alleged  to  proceed  from  on  high,  they 
are  not  couched  in  either  good  or  grammatical  language,  but  are 
very  much  to  the  point  in  their  chief  object —  the  raising  of  money : 

"  And  again,  verily  I  say  unto  you,  my  servant  George  Miller 
is  without  guile,  he  may  be  trusted  because  of  the  integrity  of  his 
heart ;  and  for  the  love  which  he  has  to  my  testimony ;  I  the  Lord 
loveth  him.  I  therefore  say  unto  you,  I  seal  upon  his  head  the 
office  of  a  bishopric,  like  unto  my  servant  Edward  Partridge, 
that  he  may  receive  the  consecrations  of  mine  house,  that  he  may 
administer  blessings  upon  the  heads  of  the  poor  of  my  people,  saith 
the  Lord.  Let  no  man  despise  my  servant  George,  for  he  shall  honor 
me.  Let  my  servant  George,  and  my  servant  Lyman,  and  my 
servant  John  Snider,  and  others,  build  a  house  unto  my  name, 
such  a  one  as  my  servant  Joseph  shall  show  unto  them,  upon 
the  place  which  he  shall  show  unto  them  also.  And  it  shall  be 
for  a  house  of  boarding,  a  house  that  strangers  may  come  from 
afar  to  lodge  therein  —  therefore  let  it  be  a  good  house,  worthy 
of  all  acceptation,  that  the  weary  traveler  may  find  health  and 
safety,  while  he  shall  contemplate  the  word  of  the  Lord,  and  the 
corner  stone  I  have  appointed  for  Zion.  This  house  shall  be  a 
healthy  habitation,  if  it  be  built  unto  my  name,  and  if  the  gov- 
ernor which  shall  be  appointed  unto  it  shall  not  suffer  any  pollu- 
tion to  come  upon  it.  It  shall  be  holy,  or  the  Lord  your  God 
will  not  dwell  therein." 

"  And  again,  verily  I  say  unto  you,  I  command  you  again  to 
build  a  house  to  my  name,  even  in  this  place,  that  ye  may  prove 
yourselves  unto  me,  that  ye  are  faithful  in  all  things  whatsoever 
I  command  you,  that  I  may  bless  you,  and  crown  you  with 
honor,  immortality,  and  eternal  life. 

*  Tho  revelation  permitting  spiritual  wives  was  given  to  the  Prophet  at 
Nauvoo,  in  1843,  but  polygamy  did  not  become  a  tenet  of  the  church  until 
after  the  removal  to  Utah. 


"  And  now,  I  say  unto  you,  as  pertaining  to  my  boarding- 
house,  which  I  have  commanded  you  to  build  for  the  boarding  of 
strangers,  let  it  be  built  unto  my  name,  and  let  my  name  be 
named  upon  it,  and  let  my  servant  Joseph  and  his  house  have 
place  therein  from  generation  to  generation.  For  this  anointing 
have  I  put  upon  his  head,  that  his  blessing  shall  also  be  put  upon 
the  heads  of  his  posterity  after  him,  and  as  I  said  unto  Abraham, 
concerning  the  kindreds  of  the  earth,  even  so,  I  say  unto  my 
servant  Joseph,  in  thee,  and  in  thy  seed,  shall  the  kindreds  of 
the  earth  be  blessed. 

"  Therefore,  let  my  servant  Joseph,  and  his  seed  after  him, 
have  place  in  that  house  from  generation  to  generation  for  ever 
and  ever,  saith  the  Lord,  and  let  the  name  of  that  house  be  called 
the  Nauvoo  House,  and  let  it  be  a  delightful  habitation  for  man, 
and  a  resting  place  for  the  weary  traveler,  that  he  may  con- 
template the  glory  of  Zion,  and  the  glory  of  this  the  corner  stone 
thereof;  that  he  may  receive,  also,  the  counsel  from  those  whom 
I  have  sent  to  be  as  plants  of  renown,  and  as  watchmen  upon  her 

"  Behold !  verily  I  say  unto  you,  let  my  servant  George  Miller, 
and  my  servant  Lyman  Wright,  and  my  servant  John  Snider, 
and  my  servant  Peter  Hawes,  organize  themselves,  and  appoint 
one  of  them  to  be  a  president  over  their  quorum  for  the  purpose 
of  building  that  house. 

"  And  again,  verily  I  say  unto  you,  if  my  servant  George 
Miller,  and  my  servant  Lyman  Wright,  and  my  servant  John 
Snider,  and  my  servant  Peter  Hawes,  receive  any  stock  into  their 
hands,  in  monies,  or  in  properties  wherein  they  receive  the  real 
value  of  monies,  they  shall  not  appropriate  any  portion  of  that 
stock  to  any  other  purpose,  only  in  that  house ;  and  if  they  do 
appropriate  any  portion  of  that  stock  anywhere  else,  only  in 
that  house,  without  the  consent  of  the  stockholders,  and  do  not 
repay  four-fold,  they  shall  be  accursed,  and  shall  be  removed 
out  of  their  place  saith  the  Lord  God,  for  I  the  Lord  am  God, 
and  cannot  be  mocked  in  any  of  these  things. 

"  Let  my  servant  Vinson  Knight  lift  up  his  voice  long  and  loud 
in  the  midst  of  the  people,  to  plead  the  cause  of  the  poor  and 
needy,  and  let  him  not  fail,  neither  let  his  heart  faint,  and  I  will 
accept  of  his  offerings,  for  they  shall  not  be  unto  me  as  the  of- 
ferings of  Cain,  for  he  shall  be  mine,  saith  the  Lord.  Let  his 
family  rejoice  and  turn  away  their  hearts  from  affliction,  for  I 


have  chosen  and  anointed  him,  and  he  shall  be  honored  in  the 
midst  of  his  house,  for  I  will  forgive  all  his  sins,  saith  the  Lord. 

"  Let  my  servant  Isaac  Galland  put  stock  in  that  house,  for  I 
the  Lord  God  loveth  him  for  the  work  he  hath  done,  and  will  for- 
give all  his  sins,  therefore  let  him  be  remembered  for  an  interest 
in  that  house  from  generation  to  generation.  Let  my  servant 
Isaac  Galland  be  appointed  among  you,  and  be  ordained  by 
my  servant  William  Marks,  and  be  blessed  of  him,  to  go  with 
my  servant  Hyrum  to  accomplish  the  work  that  my  servant 
Joseph  shall  point  out  to  them,  and  they  shall  be  greatly  blessed. 

"  Let  my  servant  William  Law  pay  stock  in  that  house  for  him- 
self and  his  seed  after  him,  from  generation  to  generation.  If 
he  will  do  my  will  let  him  not  take  his  family  unto  the  eastern 
lands,  even  unto  Kirtland;  nevertheless  I  the  Lord  will  build  up 
Kirtland,  but  I  the  Lord  have  a  scourge  prepared  for  the  in- 
habitants thereof.  Let  no  man  go  from  this  place  who  has 
come  here  assaying  to  keep  my  commandments.  If  they  live 
here,  let  them  live  unto  me,  and  if  they  die,  let  them  die  unto 
me ;  for  they  shall  rest  from  all  their  labors  here,  and  shall  con- 
tinue their  works.  Therefore,  let  my  servant  William  put  his 
trust  in  me,  and  cease  to  fear  concerning  his  family,  because  of 
the  sickness  of  the  land.  If  ye  love  me,  keep  my  commandments, 
and  the  sickness  of  the  land  shall  redound  to  your  glory." 

The  Prophet  was  now  surrounded  by  all  the  evidences  of 
material  and  spiritual  growth  and  permanency,  and  if  he  and  his 
followers  had  shown  a  decent  respect  for  the  opinions  of  man- 
kind they  might  to  this  day  have  remained  in  undisturbed  pos- 
session of  their  new  Zion.  The  revelation  from  heaven  given 
to  Joseph  in  1843,  permitting  a  plurality  of  wives,  was  for  a 
long  time  withheld  from  the  mass  of  his  followers,  and  was  im- 
parted as  a  secret  only  to  the  dignitaries  of  the  Church.  By  the 
statutes  of  Illinois  bigamy  was  a  crime.  The  bishops,  priests, 
and  elders  forming  the  High  Council  of  the  hierarchy,  alone 
availed  themselves  of  the  permission  given  by  revelation,  and 
endeavored  to  "  keep  on  the  windy  side  o'  the  law  "  by  being 
"  sealed "  spiritually  to  their  additional  helpmeets,  instead  of 
being  married  according  to  usual  forms.  The  people  of  Illinois 
were  not  to  be  hoodwinked  by  any  such  euphemistic  nonsense  as 
this.  They  held  a  wife  to  be  a  wife,  whether  spiritual  or  tempo- 
ral, whether  "sealed"  or."  asked  on  the  banns."     The  leaders 


of  the  Church  adopted  polygamy,  or  what  was  its  equivalent, 
with  many  misgivings.  They  felt  it  to  be  a  bold  and  probably 
a  hazardous  doctrine.  It  was  a  plain  infraction  of  the  teachings 
of  the  Mormon  Bible ;  that  authority  says :  "  Wherefore  my 
brethren,  hearken  unto  the  word  of  the  Lord :  there  shall  not  any 
man  among  you  have,  save  it  be  but  one  wife,  and  concubines  he 
shall  have  none."  A  few  of  the  leaders  stood  by  this  doctrine 
and  opposed  the  new  revelation  as  heretical  and  dangerous.  The 
Prophet  professed  great  concern  of  mind,  and  went  through  the 
farce  of  fleeing  from  the  city  to  avoid  being  the  promulgator 
of  the  repugnant  command.  He  soon  returned  with  the  awful 
tale  that  he  was  met  by  an  angel  with  a  flaming  sword,  who  de- 
nounced against  him  the  penalty  of  instant  death  if  he  did  not 
return  and  set  forth  the  new  revelation.  There  is  no  limit  to 
human  credulity.  This  story  satisfied  all  Mormondom.  But 
it  did  not  satisfy  the  people  of  Illinois,  and  thenceforward  there 
was  no  peace  for  those  who  believed  and  practised  the  polygamous 
doctrine  until  they  were  driven,  root  and  branch,  from  the  soil  of 
the  State. 

In  previous  contests  between  the  Saints  and  their  Gentile 
neighbors,  the  former  had  been  charged  with  every  crime  except 
bigamy,  and  now  that  was  added,  and  was  the  principal  cause  of 
the  riot  and  bloodshed  at  Carthage.  While  it  will  not  be  pre- 
tended that  either  of  the  parties  to  the  quarrel  was  wholly  right 
or  wrong,  let  us  see  how  far  the  accusations  against  the  followers 
of  the  Prophet  may  be  justified  by  Mormon  testimony.  Expul- 
sions from  the  society  and  published  proscriptions  began  at 
Kirtland.  Martin  Harris,  whose  money  had  laid  the  foundation 
of  the  whole  miserable  fraud,  but  who  was  now  a  squeezed 
orange,  was  expelled  from  the  Church  and,  in  company  with 
others,  was  posted  in  the  Elders'  Journal  by  Smith  as  follows : 
"  There  are  negroes  who  wear  white  skins  as  well  as  black  ones : 
Granus  Parish,  and  others  who  acted  as  lackeys,  such  as  Martin 
Harris ;  but  they  are  so  far  beneath  contempt  that  a  notice  of 
them  would  be  too  great  a  sacrifice  for  a  gentleman  to  make." 
Yet  as  long  as  he  had  money  Harris  was  prominent  in  Mormon 
affairs,  and  was  certainly  a  zealous  defender  of  the  faith,  as  the 
following  predictions  will  show: 

"  Within  four  years  from  September,  1832,  there  will  not  be 
one  wicked  person  left  in  the  United  States ;  that  the  righteous 


will  be  gathered  to  Zion  [Missouri],  and  that  there  will  be  no 
president  over  these  United  States  after  that  time. 

"  Martin  Harris." 

"  I  do  hereby  assert  and  declare,  that  in  four  years  from  the 
date  hereof  every  sectarian  and  religious  denomination  in  the 
United  States  shall  be  broken  down,  and  every  Christian  shall  be 
gathered  unto  the  Mormonites,  and  the  rest  of  the  human  race 
shall  perish.  If  these  things  do  not  take  place,  I  will  hereby 
consent  to  have  my  hand  separated  from  my  body. 

"  Martin  Harris." 

While  the  Mormons  were  in  Missouri,  a  paper  was  drafted 
by  Sidney  Rigdon,  and  signed  by  eighty-four  Mormons,  the  ob- 
ject of  which  was  to  drive  away  the  dissenters.  It  was  addressed 
to  Oliver  Cowdery,  David  Whitmer,  John  Whitmer,  William  W. 
Phelps,  and  Lyman  E.  Johnson.  Of  these  Oliver  Cowdery  and 
David  Whitmer  were  two  of  the  three  witnesses  that  testified  to 
the  truth  of  the  Book  of  Mormon.  This  paper  charges  these 
dissenters,  viz.,  Oliver  Cowdery,  David  Whitmer,  etc.,  with  mon- 
strous vices  and  crimes.  It  states  that  Cowdery  was  arrested  for 
stealing,  and  the  stolen  property  was  found  in  the  house  of 
William  W.  Phelps,  Cowdery  having  stolen  and  conveyed  it 
there;  that  they  had  endeavored  to  destroy  the  character 
of  Smith  and  Rigdon  by  every  artifice  the}'  could  in- 
vent, not  even  excepting  the  basest  lying;  that  they  had 
disturbed  the  Mormon  meetings  of  worship  by  a  mob  of 
blacklegs ;  that  Oliver  Cowdery  and  David  Whitmer  united  with 
a  gang  of  counterfeiters,  thieves,  liars,  and  blacklegs  of  the 
deepest  die,  to  deceive,  cheat,  and  defraud  the  Mormons  out  of 
their  property^  by  every  art  and  stratagem  which  wickedness 
could  invent;  using  the  influence  of  the  vilest  persecutions  to 
bring  vexations  and  law  suits,  villainous  prosecutions,  and  even 
stealing  not  excepted;  that  Cowdery  attempted  to  sell  notes  on 
which  he  had  received  pay ;  that  he  and  David  Whitmer  swore 
falsely,  stole,  cheated,  lied,  sold  bogus  money  (base  coin),  and 
also  stones  and  sand  for  bogus ;  that  letters  in  the  post-office  had 
been  opened,  read  and  destroyed;  and  that  those  same  men  were 
concerned  with  a  gang  of  counterfeiters,  coiners,  and  blacklegs." 

Taking  their  own  account  of  themselves,  were  the  Mormons 
desirable  neighbors  or  good  citizens  ? 


That  the  Prophet  himself  was  not  an  estimable  or  law-abiding 
person  may  be  gathered  from  the  following  affidavit :  "  James  C. 
Owens  testifies  that  Smith  said  he  cared  nothing  about  the  Mis- 
souri troops,  nor  the  laws ;  that  they  were  a  d — d  set,  and  God 
should  d — n  them,  so  help  him  Jesus  Christ ;  that  he  meant  to  go 
on  as  he  had  begun,  and  take  his  own  course,  and  kill  and  destroy ; 
and  he  told  the  men  to  fight  like  angels ;  that  heretofore  he  had 
told  them  to  fight  like  devils,  but  now  he  told  them  to  fight  like 
angels  —  that  angels  could  whip  devils ;  that  God  would  send 
two  angels  where  they  lacked  one  man.  He  said  they  might 
think  he  was  swearing;  but  that  God  Almighty  would  not  take 
notice  of  him  in  cursing  such  a  d — d  set  as  those  were.  He  said 
they  pretended  to  come  out  as  militia,  but  that  they  were  all  a 
d — d  set  of  mobs.  He  stated,  at  one  time,  that  as  they  had 
commenced  consecrating  in  Davies  County,  he  intended  to  have 
the  surrounding  counties  consecrated  to  him;  that  the  time  had 
come  when  the  riches  of  the  Gentiles  should  be  consecrated  to 
the  Saints." 

John  Cleminson,  clerk  of  the  Caldwell  circuit  court,  testifies 
that  the  Danites  were  taught  to  support  the  presidency  in  all 
their  designs,  right  or  wrong,  and  to  obey  them  in  all  things ; 
and  whoever  opposed  them  in  what  they  said  or  desired  to 
have  preformed  should  be  expelled  from  the  county,  or  put  to 
death.  They  were  further  taught  that  if  any  one  betrayed  the 
secret  designs  of  the  Danite  society  he  should  be  killed  and  laid 
aside,  and  nothing  should  be  said  about  it.  When  process  was 
filed  against  Smith  and  others,  in  witness's  office,  for  trespass, 
Smith  told  him  not  to  issue  a  writ ;  that  he  did  not  intend  to  sub- 
mit to  it ;  that  he  would  not  suffer  it  to  be  issued,  etc. ;  insomuch 
that  witness,  knowing  the  regulation  of  the  Danite  band,  felt  him- 
self intimidated  and  in  danger  in  case  he  should  issue  it.  The  ob- 
ject of  the  Mormon  expedition  to  Davies  was  to  drive  out  all 
the  citizens  of  the  county,  and  get  possession  of  their  property. 
It  was  frequently  observed,  among  the  Mormon  troops,  that  the 
time  had  come  when  the  riches  of  the  Gentiles  should  be  conse- 
crated to  the  Saints.  It  was  a  generally  prevailing  understand- 
ing among  them  "  that  they  would  oppose  either  militia  or  mob, 
should  they  come  out  against  them ;  for  they  considered  them  all 
mob  at  heart." 

In  reference  to  the  Mormon  dissenters,  Dr.  Avard,  the  Danite 
teacher,  said :   "  I  will  tell  you  how  I  will  do  them ;  when  I  meet 


one  damning  the  presidency,  I  can  damn  them  as  well  as  he ;  and 
if  he  wants  to  drink,  I  can  get  a  bowl  of  brandy,  and  get  him 
half  drunk;  and  taking  him  by  the  arm,  lead  him  to  the 
woods  or  brush,  and  be  into  his  guts  in  a  minute,  and  put  him 
under  the  sod." 

Rigdon,  in  a  sermon,  said  he  would  assist  in  erecting  a  gallows 
on  the  square,  and  hang  all  the  dissenters.  Smith  was  present, 
and  followed  Rigdon.  He  spoke  of  the  fate  of  Judas,  and  said 
that  Peter  had  hung  him ;  and  that  he  himself  approved  of  Mr. 
Rigdon's  sermon,  and  considered  it  a  good  one.  Little  did  Mr. 
Rigdon  think,  when  breathing  forth  threatenings  and  slaughter 
against  dissenters,  that  he  himself  would,  in  a  short  time,  be 
expelled  from  the  Church,  and  "  delivered  over  to  the  bufFetings 
of  Satan."     Yet  so  it  was. 

Affairs  now  rapidly  drifted  toward  their  fatal  termination. 
Smith  was  charged  by  a  seceding  member  of  the  Church  with 
alienating  the  affections  of  his  wife,  and  "sealing  "  her  unto 
himself,  and  a  suit  for  damages  as  well  as  for  the  crime  of 
bigamy  was  brought  against  him  by  the  injured  husband.  Simi- 
lar charges  were  also  brought  against  other  dignitaries  of  the 
Church.  Attempts  to  arrest  them  were  resisted  by  the  military 
power  under  command  of  the  Prophet.  The  mistake  of  author- 
izing him  to  enroll,  arm,  and  equip  the  Nauvoo  Legion  was  now 
apparent.  State  troops  were  called  out  to  enforce  obedience  to 
law.  The  situation  was  critical.  Religious  fanaticism  was  in 
hostile  array  against  legal  authority,  and  the  worst  of  all  wars 
was  impending.  Anxious  to  avoid  a  collision,  the  Governor  pro- 
posed to  Joseph  and  Hyrum  Smith  their  surrender  to 
the  sheriff,  and  the  disbandment  of  their  armed  followers,  as  the 
only  means  of  saving  their  own  lives  and  their  city  from  destruc- 
tion. If  this  was  done,  he  promised  them  protection  on  their 
way  to  prison,  and  during  their  confinement,  and  an  unbiased 
legal  investigation  of  the  matters  in  dispute  between  them  and 
their  neighbors,  pro  and  con.  The  Smiths  assented  and  were 
conveyed  to  the  county  jail  at  Carthage,  which  was  placed  under 
a  strong  military  guard.  Most  of  the  men  composing  it  were  at 
bitter  enemity  with  the  Saints,  and  in  a  few  days  the  greater  part 
of  the  detail  had  deserted.  On  the  afternoon  of  the  27th  day 
of  June,  1844,  the  remnant  of  the  command  was  overpowered  by 
a  mob  of  about  two  hundred  armed  and  disguised  men,  who  broke 
opened  the  prison  doors  and  murdered  Joseph  and  Hyrum  Smith. 


There  is  little  doubt  that  deserters  from  the  Governor's  guard  led 
the  attack.  His  Excellency  hastened  to  the  scene,  and  was 
greatly  affected  by  the  brutal  assassination  that  had  taken  place, 
and  intensely  indignant  that  his  pledge  of  safe  conduct  and  cus- 
tody had  been  violated.  He  hastily  sent  word  to  the  Mormons 
at  Nauvoo,  to  defend  themselves,  if  necessary,  in  any  possible 
way,  until  he  could  afford  them  protection.  He  at  once  issued 
a  statement  in  which,  among  other  things,  he  says :  "  The  pledge 
of  security  to  the  Smiths  was  not  given  upon  my  individual  re- 
sponsibility alone.  Before  I  gave  it  I  obtained  a  pledge  of 
honor,  by  a  unanimous  vote  of  the  officers  and  men  under  my  com- 
mand, to  sustain  me  in  performing  it.  If  the  assassination  of 
the  Smiths  was  committed  by  any  of  these,  they  have  added 
treachery  to  murder,  and  have  done  all  they  could  to  disgrace  the 
State  and  sully  the  public  honor."  These  murders  were  not 
alone  a  great  crime  —  they  were  a  great  blunder  as  well.  A 
strong  tide  of  public  sympathy  flowed  in  toward  the  Mormons, 
and  the  foundations  of  their  Church  were  laid  upon  broader 
lines,  and  strengthened  and  cemented  by  the  blood  of  the  martyrs. 
The  Prophet  was  lauded,  lamented,  and  canonized  by  his  people. 
What  others  thought  of  him  may  be  learned,  in  part,  from  the 
following  characterization  which  appeared  in  a  religious  journal 
of  the  time : 

'*  Various  are  the  opinions  concerning  this  singular  personage; 
but  whatever  may  be  thought  in  reference  to  his  principles,  ob- 
jects, or  moral  character,  all  agree  that  he  was  a  most  remark- 
able man.  Born  in  the  very  lowest  walks  of  life,  reared  in  pov- 
erty, educated  in  vice,  having  no  claims  to  even  common  intelli- 
gence, coarse  and  vulgar  in  deportment,  Smith  succeeded  in 
establishing  a  religious  creed,  the  tenets  of  which  have  been 
taught  throughout  America;  the  Prophet's  virtues  have  been  re- 
hearsed in  Europe ;  the  ministers  of  Nauvoo  have  found  a 
welcome  in  Asia ;  Africa  has  listened  to  the  grave  sayings  of  the 
seer  of  Palmyra ;  the  standard  of  the  Latter-Day  Saints  has  been 
reared  on  the  banks  of  the  Nile ;  and  even  the  Holy  Land  has  been 
entered  by  the  emissaries  of  the  impostor.  He  founded  a  city 
in  one  of  the  most  beautiful  situations  in  the  world,  in  a  beautiful 
curve  of  the  '  Father  of  Waters,'  of  no  mean  pretensions,  and  in 
and  about  it  he  had  collected  a  population  of  25,000,  from  every 
part  of  the  world.  The  acts  of  his  life  exhibit  a  character  as 
incongruous  as  it  is  remarkable.     If  we  can  credit  his  own  words, 


and  the  testimony  of  eye-witnesses,  he  was  at  the  same  time  the 
vicegerent  of  God  and  a  tavern-keeper  —  a  prophet  and  a  base 
libertine  —  a  minister  of  peace  and  a  lieutenant-general  —  a 
ruler  of  tens  of  thousands  and  a  slave  to  all  his  own  base  pas- 
sions —  a  preacher  of  righteousness  and  a  profane  swearer  —  a 
worshiper  of  Bacchus,  mayor  of  a  city,  and  a  miserable  bar-room 
fiddler — a  judge  on  the  judicial  bench  and  an  invader  of  the 
civil,  social,  and  moral  relations  of  men  —  and,  notwithstanding 
these  inconsistencies  of  character,  there  are  not  wanting  thousands 
willing  to  stake  their  soul's  eternal  salvation  on  his  veracity." 

When  the  consternation  and  excitement  following  the  death 
of  the  head  of  the  Church  had  in  part  subsided,  the  question  of 
electing  his  successor  began  to  be  agitated.  Mr.  Rigdon  seems 
to  have  assumed  the  Prophet's  functions  after  his  taking  off,  ap- 
parently little  doubting  that  his  assumption  would  be  ratified 
by  his  associate  Elders,  whenever  consideration  of  the  succession 
should  engage  their  attention.  He  had  been  from  the  first  the 
trusted  friend  and  counselor  of  the  Prophet.  Co-equally  with 
him  he  was  the  "  author  and  proprietor  "  of  the  Book  of  Mormon. 
But  for  his  possession  of  the  Spalding  manuscript,  and  his 
ability  to  transpose,  transcribe,  and  travesty  the  Scriptures,  the 
golden  revelation  would,  in  all  probability,  never  have  been  given 
to  mankind.  By  priority  of  membership,  and  of  service  in  the 
Church,  he  was  surely  entitled  to  the  mantle  of  his  predecessor. 
But  he  was  not  a  man  of  real  ability.  He  was  showy  rather  than 
solid,  and  was  estimated  at  his  true  value  by  most  of  his  brethren. 
Opposed  to  him,  as  a  candidate  for  the  presidency  of  the  Church, 
was  Brigham  Young.  Few  political  priests  from  Thomas  a 
Becket  to  Richelieu  have  been  "  entirely  great  "  ;  Young  was  one 
of  the  few.  He  was  Strafford  and  Laud  combined.  He  esti- 
mated at  its  proper  value  the  prize  for  which  he  was  contending. 
He  had  seen  the  people  over  whom  he  aspired  to  rule  build  cities 
and  temples,  and  pour  their  wealth  ungrudgingly  into  the  lap  of 
the  head  of  the  Church,  at  whose  hands  no  reckoning  was  required. 
The  future  gave  him  promise  of  dictatorship  over  half  a  million 
unquestioning  and  obedient  subjects.  Could  he  succeed,  supreme 
power  and  "  the  potentiality  of  growing  rich  beyond  the  dreams 
of  avarice  "  would  be  his.  Possibilities  such  as  these  were  not  to 
be  surrendered  to  another  without  making  an  effort  to  grasp  them. 
The  effort  was  successful;  Young  was  unanimously  chosen  to 
fill  the  place  left  vacant  by  the  death  of  Joseph  Smith,  Jr. 


After  his  expulsion  from  the  Church,  Rigdon  returned  to  the 
Genesee  Country  and  passed  the  evening  of  his  days  in  Friend- 
ship, Allegany  County,  New  York :  but  his  lips  forever  remained 
sealed  in  regard  to  his  connection  with  the  origin  of  Mormonism. 
Many  attempts  to  break  his  silence  were  made,  but  none  ever  suc- 
ceeded. The  following  letter  from  the  postmaster  at  Friend- 
ship, reveals  the  fact  that  his  children  have  inherited  their 
father's  reticence: 

"  Dear  Sir  : 

"  Mr.  Rigdon  never  gave  any  information,  either  oral  or  writ- 
ten, in  regard  to  Mormonism,  although  frequently  solicited  to  do 
so;  and  although  he  has  children  living  here  and  elsewhere,  it 
would  avail  nothing  to  attempt  to  get  any  information  from 
them.  Respectfully, 

"  R.  A.  Scott,  P.  M." 

As  has  been  shown,  a  majority  of  the  pioneer  Mormons  either 
seceded  or  were  expelled  from  the  Church.  Martin  Harris  was 
proffered  a  restoration  to  fellowship,  but  declined  it.  He  re- 
visited the  scene  of  his  delusion,  in  1858,  a  very  poor  man,  and  is 
understood  to  have  passed  away  some  years  later,  at  Kirtland. 
Parley  P.  Pratt  was  killed  in  Arkansas  in  1857,  by  an  irate 
husband  whose  wife  had  been  converted  and  sealed  by  the  prose- 
lyting elder.  There  are  some  communities  where  lives,  not  law- 
suits, are  the  penalty  of  breaking  up  the  domestic  fireside.  A 
communication  in  the  New  York  Times  of  February  25,  1888,  an- 
nounced the  death  at  Richmond,  Missouri,  on  the  25th  of  Jan- 
uary of  that  year,  of  David  Whitmer.  He  was  one  of  the 
three  original  witnesses  who  testified  "  that  an  angel  of  God 
came  down  from  Heaven  and  brought  the  plates  and  laid  them 
before  our  eyes,  that  we  saw  and  beheld  them,  and  the  engrav- 
ings thereon  "  —  with  much  more  to  the  same  effect.  The 
Times'  correspondent  says :  "  Subsequently  all  of  these  three 
men  renounced  Mormonism  and  declared  their  testimony  false." 
Having  taken  some  pains  to  investigate  the  origin  and  early 
history  of  Smith's  revelation,  the  writer  can  find  nothing  con- 
firmatory of  the  latter  portion  of  this  statement.*     It  is  too  im- 

*  The  following  letters  effectually  dispose  of  it : 

Clifton  Springs,  N.  Y.,  Sept.  15,  1889. 
Dear  Sir  : — Referring  to  the  enclosed  cutting  from  the  New  York  Times,  of 
February  25,  1888,  I  beg  to  ask  whether   Mr.  Whitmer   ever  declared  his 


portant,  if  true,  to  have  escaped  all  previous  and  subsequent  in- 
vestigation. One  of  the  strangest  of  the  many  strange  features 
of  Mormon  history  is  the  fact  that  though  a  number  of  the 
pioneer  professors  withdrew  or  were  expelled  from  the  Church 
no  one  of  them  ever  attacked  its  doctrines,  or  denounced  the  fraud 
in  which  they  are  supposed  to  have  been  participants.  The 
Times  states  that  "  Mr.  Whitmer  at  the  time  of  his  death  had  in 
his  possession  the  original  manuscripts  of  the  Book  of  Mormon 
in  a  state  of  perfect  preservation."  All  this  proves  nothing ;  it 
neither  establishes  nor  overthrows  the  Solomon  Spalding  theory, 
and  sheds  no  new  light  upon  the  question  of  the  authorship  of 
the  golden  revelation.  The  statement  that  the  manuscript  of 
Spalding's  work,  which  had  long  been  lost,  was  discovered  in  the 
Sandwich  Islands  in  1885,  and  is  now  in  the  library  of  Hiram 
College,  Ohio,  adds  nothing  to  the  stock  of  knowledge  we  now  pos- 
sess. It  had  previously  been  compared  with  the  Book  of  Mor- 
mon, and  their  similarity  established.  Unless  Mr.  Rigdon  left 
with  his  heirs  a  statement  regarding  it,  we  are  probably  in 
possession  of  all  the  facts  concerning  the  authorship  of  the 
Golden  Bible  which  will  ever  be  made  known. 

Here  this  narrative,  which  has  already  been  carried  far  beyond 
the  boundaries  of  the  Genesee  Country,  must  end.  In  his  inter- 
esting, eloquent,  and  learned  review  of  "  Ranke's  History  of  the 
Popes,"  Macaulay  tells  us,  "  There  is  not  and  there  never  was 
on  this  earth,  a  work  of  human  policy  so  well  deserving  of  exam- 
ination as  the  Roman  Catholic  Church."     If  the  Church  of  the 

testimony  in  regard  to  having  seen  the  golden  plates  to  be  false?  After  being 
expelled  from  the  Church,  Cowdery  was  reinstated  and  resumed  his  functions 
as  an  Elder  and  preacher.  Do  you  know  when  and  where  he  died,  and  whether 
he  renounced  Mormonism  a  second  time,  or  died  in  the  faith  ?  Are  any  of 
Mr.  Whitmer's  family  still  residents  in  your  vicinity,  and  if  so  will  you  kindly 
give  me  the  name  and  address  of  some  one  of  them  ?  Be  good  enough  to  re- 
inclose  the  cutting  with  your  reply  and  oblige 

Your  obedient  servant, 

E.  W.  Vanderhoof. 
To  the  Postmaster  at  Richmond,  Mo. 


Ricitmond,  Mo.,  Sept.  18th,  '89. 
Dear  Sir: — David  Whitmer  never  renounced  Mormonism.  He  never 
declared  that  his  testimony  in  regard  to  plates  was  false.  He  was  regarded  by 
everybody  as  an  honest  man.  By  this  writer  who  knew  him  intimately  for 
many  years,  and  was  his  family  physician,  he  was  regarded  as  an  honest  but 
misguided  or  deceived  man.  His  son,  David  J.  Whitmer,  and  his  grandson, 
George  W.  Schemich,  reside  here;  also  his  nephew,  Jno.  C.  Whitmer,  who  is 
an  Elder  in  the  Mormon  Church.  Oliver  died  here.  He  never  renounced 
Mormonism  that  I  ever  heard  of.  Respectfully, 

S.  T.  Babsett,  M.  D.,  P.  M. 


Latter-Day  Saints  was  equally  deserving,  the  writer  is  not  the 
proper  person  to  make  the  examination.  Born  within  a  few  miles 
of  the  Hill  of  Camorah,  at  about  the  period  when  the  new  revela- 
tion was  given  to  the  world,  he  was  taught  by  orthodox  parents 
that  it  was  an  impudent  and  impious  fraud.  Written  by  him,  the 
history  of  the  Mormon  Church  would  not  be  impartial.  But  he 
may  show  how  unprejudiced  writers  have  regarded  it.  Profes- 
sor Renan,  in  "  The  Apostles,"  tells  us  that  u  our  own  age  has 
witnessed  religious  movements  quite  as  extraordinary  as  those  of 
former  times :  movements  attended  with  as  much  enthusiasm, 
which  have  already  had,  in  proportion,  more  martyrs,  and  the 
future  of  which  is  still  undetermined.  I  do  not  refer  to  the  Mor- 
mons, a  sect  in  some  respects  so  degraded  and  absurd  that  one 
hesitates  to  seriously  consider  it.  There  is  much  to  suggest  re- 
flection, however,  in  seeing  thousands  of  men  of  our  own  race 
living  in  the  miraculous  in  the  middle  of  the  nineteenth  century, 
and  blindly  believing  in  the  wonders  which  they  profess  to  have 
seen  and  touched.  A  literature  has  already  arisen  pretending  to 
reconcile  Mormonism  and  science.  But  what  is  of  more  importance, 
this  religion,  founded  upon  silly  impostures,  has  inspired  prodi- 
gies of  patience  and  self-denial.  Five  hundred  years  hence, 
learned  professors  will  seek  to  prove  its  divine  origin  by  the 
miracle  of  its  establishment." 

The  introduction  to  the  Book  of  Mormon,  published  by 
Wright  &  Co.,  of  New  York,  about  the  time  of  the  movement  to 
Utah,  says : 

"  That  a  single  man,  in  the  midst  of  the  enlightenment  of  this 
century,  should  have  been  able  to  throw  the  lines  of  mysticism 
so  thoroughly  over  the  minds  of  hundreds  and  thousands  of  men 
and  women,  is  not  more  wonderful  than  the  earnest  and  self- 
denying  faith  with  which  his  devotees  have  sustained  an  unbroken 
unity,  under  circumstances  of  remarkable  privation  and  peril. 
Nor  is  it  less  surprising  that  the  assumption  of  a  power  very 
nearly  absolute,  by  one  man,  who  is  regarded  as  the  legitimate 
successor  of  the  original  Prophet,  has  come  to  be  accepted  by 
this  people  as  a  divine  ordination,  and  that  to  one  guiding  spirit 
alone  is  yielded  the  homage  and  obedience  which  insure  the  auto- 
cratic sway  of  Brigham  Young.  Considered  in  all  their  rela- 
tions —  religious,  political,  moral,  or  social  —  the  Mormons  are 
a  curious  people.  Occupying  for  their  headquarters  a  portion 
of  the  American  continent  which  is  far  removed  from  the  influ- 


ences  of  civilization,  and  indeed  is  for  many  months  in  the  year 
totally  inaccessible  —  cooped  up  among  overhanging  mountains 
—  destitute  of  the  refinements  of  ordinary  social  life  —  bent  be- 
neath the  sway  of  an  unscrupulous  hierarchy  —  holding  to  prac- 
tices which,  elsewhere  than  in  their  own  territory,  would  subject 
them  to  the  penalties  of  the  law ;  and,  withal,  noted  for  a  spirit  of 
zeal,  industry,  and  perseverance  which  has  enabled  them  to  con- 
vert the  wildest  moods  of  nature  into  servants  of  their  will  —  the 
Mormons  have  earned  an  enduring  reputation  for  sincerity, 
and  energy,  and  capacity.  When  the  secrets  of  their  origin, 
and  progress,  and  government  shall  have  been  added  to  the  pub- 
lished record  of  their  religious  belief,  this  people  will  rank  among 
the  most  extraordinary  of  all  the  sects  that  have  sprung  into 
life  as  the  world  has  run  its  course." 

But  there  are  signs  which  lead  us  to  believe  that  the  end  of 
Mormonism  is  approaching.  Civilization  spans  the  continent, 
and  there  is  no  further  retreat  within  our  jurisdiction  where  the 
Saints  can,  for  any  length  of  time,  find  solitude.  Brigham 
Young  left  no  successor  at  all  his  equal  in  boldness  and  ability. 
The  chief-priests  of  the  hierarchy  no  longer  bid  defiance  to  a 
Government  which  expresses  the  will  of  sixty-five  millions*  of 
people,  and  have  ceased  to  laugh  at  its  courts  and  trample  with 
impunity  upon  its  laws.  Utah,  freed  from  polygamy,  will  soon 
join  the  sisterhood  of  States,  and  Mormonism,  surrounded  by 
enlightenment,  liberty,  and  law,  must  "  die  amid  its  wor- 

*  The  population  of  the  United  States  in  1887. 


"Perhaps  thou  wert  a  Mason  and  forbidden, 
By  oath,  to  tell  the  secrets  of  thy  trade." 

—  Address  to  the  Mummy. 

"HAT  is  known  to-day  under  the  name  of  Free- 
masonry had  its  origin  in  the  mechanical  art  of 
cutting,  joining,  and  setting  stones.  It  dates  back 
to  the  middle  ages,  but  enthusiastic  members  of 
the  order  claim  to  have  traced  it  to  the  days  of 
Solomon's  Temple,  and  the  Tower  of  Babel.  In  what  may  be 
called  cathedral-building  times,  hundreds  of  masons,  —  aside 
from  those  resident  in  the  locality  where  the  erection  was  going 
forward,  —  were  employed  in  building  church  edifices.  As  these 
itinerants  moved  from  place  to  place,  it  occurred  to  some  of  the 
more  active  minds  among  them  that  an  organization  of  their 
craft,  by  means  of  which  a  skilled  workman  could  make  himself 
known  through  certain  grips  and  passwords,  would  facilitate  their 
employment  on  new  work,  and  do  away  with  the  necessity  of 
showing  their  skill  by  actual  handicraft.  These  grips,  pass- 
words, and  other  symbols,  the  initiated  were  bound  to  keep  secret, 
thus  laying  the  foundation  stone  upon  which  the  Order  of  Free 
and  Accepted  Masons  rests  to-day.  They  were  denominated 
"  Free "  because  exempted  by  various  Papal  bulls  from  the 
operation  of  laws  governing  and  regulating  common  labor. 
Being  thus  under  the  patronage  of  the  Popes,  and  mainly  em- 
ployed in  church  building,  masons  were  bound  by  their  rules  to 
observe  certain  pious  duties,  and  though  no  obligation  of  that 
kind  exists  to-day,  yet  modern  masonry  is  founded  in  the  "  prac- 
tice of  the  moral  and  social  virtues,"  and  the  salient  features  of 
its  creed  are  charity  and  brotherly  love.  It  has  flourished  in 
England  since  the  tenth  century,  and  on  its  roll  of  membership 
have  been  inscribed  the  names  of  Kings  and  Princes  from  the 
days  of  Henry  VII.,  who  was  grand  master  of  the  English 
lodges,  down  to  the  Prince  of  Wales,  who  stands  high  among  his 
fellow  craftsmen  to-day.  Though  masonry  has  perhaps  taken 
stronger  root  amongst  English-speaking  people  than  elsewhere, 



yet  it  flourishes  in  a  greater  or  less  degree  in  France,  Russia, 
Prussia,  Holland,  and  Denmark,  and  has  obtained  some  footing 
in  British  India.  It  has  existed  in  Spain  and  Italy,  though 
generally  under  control  of  the  government,  and  sometimes, 
in  the  former  country  under  ban  of  the  Inquisition.  It  has, 
however,  usually  been  permitted  to  flourish  without  governmental 
interference,  and  in  an  act  of  parliament  passed  in  1799  for  the 
suppression  of  secret  societies,  Freemasonry  was  specially  ex- 
cepted. In  the  more  liberal  and  enlightened  times  in  which  we 
live,  so  far  from  it  being  thought  necessary  to  regulate  the 
craft  by  statute,  it  is  regarded  as  beneficent  and  worthy  by  a 
great  majority  even  of  those  who  have  not  lifted  the  veil  which 
hides  its  harmless  mysteries,  though  it  has  not  wholly  escaped 
hostility  and  bitter  opposition  in  this  country,  and  in  the  blazing 
light  of  the  nineteenth  century.  More  than  sixty  years  ago  it 
received  a  blow  in  Western  New  York  from  which  it  reeled  and 
staggered,  and  though  it  has  now  almost  wholly  recovered  from 
the  storm  of  denunciation  and  obloquy  rained  upon  it  at  that 
time,  yet  on  the  minds  of  a  number  of  worthy  people  the  events 
of  1826  have  stamped  an  ineradicable  hostility  to  secret  societies 
of  every  name  and  nature. 

On  the  11th  day  of  September,  1826,  William  Morgan  was  ar- 
rested in  Batavia  on  a  warrant  sworn  out  by  Nicholas  G.  Chese- 
bro,  master  of  a  Masonic  lodge  at  Canandaigua,  and  was  con- 
veyed to  the  latter  place  and  arraigned  before  the  justice  issuing 
the  warrant  —  Jeffrey  Chipman,  Esq.,  —  the  charge  against 
him  being  that  he  had  stolen  a  shirt  and  cravat  which  he  had 
borrowed  from  E.  C.  Kingsley.  Chesebro  and  two  or  three 
other  Masons  who  had  accompanied  Morgan  from  Batavia  ap- 
peared as  his  accusers,  but  failed  to  substantiate  their  charge 
and  he  was  discharged  by  the  justice  who  had  issued  the  warrant. 
He  was  at  once  rearrested  on  a  small  debt  due,  or  claimed  to  be 
due,  for  a  tavern  bill  which  had  been  assigned  to  Chesebro  by 
Aaron  Ashley.  Judgment  was  rendered  against  him  for  two 
dollars  by  the  justice,  and  upon  the  oath  of  Chesebro  an  execu- 
tion was  issued  on  the  spot,  and  Morgan  was  thrown  into 
Canandaigua  jail.  Both  charges  were  trumped-up  affairs,  man- 
ufactured, as  it  afterwards  appeared,  for  the  purpose  of  getting 
possession  of  his  person  and  compelling  him  by  intimidation  and 
threats  to  give  up  to  his  accusers  a  manuscript  he  had  written 
revealing  the  secrets  of  masonry.     About  9  o'clock  on  the  even- 


ing  of  the  12th,  the  day  succeeding  his  incarceration,  Chese- 
bro  and  his  fellow  conspirators  appeared  at  the  jail  with  an 
order  for  Morgan's  release  signed  by  the  convenient  justice  who 
had  acted  in  the  case.  The  equally  convenient  jailer  was  absent, 
and  the  prisoner  was  clandestinely  taken  from  the  jail  by  a 
number  of  Masons,  bound,  gagged,  hurried  into  a  covered  car- 
riage, and  rapidly  driven  in  the  direction  of  Rochester.  It  is 
now  known  that  many  persons  were  cognizant  of  these  move- 
ments, and  that  in  fact  a  majority  of  the  active  lodge  attending 
members  of  the  Masonic  fraternity  in  the  counties  of  Ontario, 
Monroe,  Genesee,  Orleans,  and  Niagara  approved  of  and  num- 
bers of  them  aided  in  this  outrage  upon  personal  liberty.  Re- 
lays of  horses  were  ready  on  the  route  over  which  the  prisoner 
passed,  and  a  perfectly  organized  plan  of  proceedings  had  evi- 
dently been  adopted  in  regard  to  the  abduction.  It  was  not 
until  the}r  were  made  the  subject  of  a  searching  legal  investiga- 
tion, assisted  by  expert  detectives  specially  employed  by  the  au- 
thorities, that  these  things  were  brought  to  light,  and  for  a  long 
time  even  the  route  taken  by  the  abductors  remained  a  mystery. 
It  is  now  known  that  the  carriage  passed  through  Rochester 
and  thence  on  the  ridge  road  westerly  towards  Lockport,  where 
a  cell  in  the  jail  had  been  prepared  for  Morgan's  reception.  At 
a  place  called  Wright's  Corners  the  programme  was  changed  and 
he  was  driven  to  Lewiston,  and  thence  to  Fort  Niagara,  where  he 
was  confined  in  the  magazine.  Colonel  Ezekiel  Jewett  was  in 
command  of  the  fort,  and  during  Morgan's  detention  there  he 
was  in  the  custody  of  the  Commandant,  of  Colonel  King  of 
Niagara  County,  and  of  Elisha  Adams.  He  had  in  fact  been 
passed  from  one  set  of  custodians  to  another  three  or  four  times 
in  going  from  Canandaigua  to  the  fort.  During  his  confine- 
ment every  effort  was  made  to  force  him  to  reveal  the  hiding 
place  of  his  manuscript,  but  without  avail.  He  maintained  a  de- 
fiant atttude,  and  vehemently  demanded  to  be  released.  When 
all  hope  of  liberation  had  vanished,  he  partially  lost  fortitude 
and  begged  to  see  his  wife  and  children.  But  not  even  a  prom- 
ise that  they  should  be  brought  to  him  could  induce  him  to  dis- 
close the  place  of  concealment  of  his  manuscript.  Meantime  a 
council  of  the  members  of  the  Masonic  fraternity  met  at  the  fort 
and  deliberated  upon  his  case.  It  is  said  that  three  propositions 
were  discussed.  The  first  was  to  give  him  a  sum  of  money  and 
settle  him  on  a  farm  in  Canada,  provided  he  would  pledge  him- 


self  to  destroy  his  revelations;  second,  to  deliver  him  to  the 
Masonic  commander  of  a  British  Man-of-War  at  Montreal  or 
Quebec;  or  third,  to  drown  him  in  Niagara  River.  The  last 
proposal  met  with  strong  opposition.  High  words  and  a  quar- 
rel ensued  among  the  deliberators,  and  when  William  Morgan 
disappeared  from  the  fort,  sometime  between  the  19th  and  29th 
days  of  September,  1826,  he  became  as  utterly  lost  to  human 
ken  as  though  he  had  never  existed. 

Who  was  William  Morgan?  Although  scores  of  men  are 
still  living  in  Western  New  York  who  had  reached  their  majority 
at  the  time  of  this  abduction,  and  probably  half  a  score  survive 
who  knew  him  personally  and  saw  him  go  to  and  fro  to  his  daily 
vocations,  yet  his  personal  history  is  wrapped  in  obscurity, 
and  it  is  almost  impossible  to  say  with  accuracy  who  and  what 
he  was.  Judge  Hammond  in  his  "  Political  History  of  New 
York  "  says  he  was  a  native  of  Virginia,  a  printer  by  trade,  and 
a  Mason  of  the  royal  arch  degree.  Chancellor  Whittlesey  in  the 
same  work  in  an  article  on  Political  Anti-Masonry,  contributed  at 
the  request  of  Hammond,  says  that  Morgan's  book  pretended  to 
reveal  a  few  of  the  first  degrees  of  masonry,  and  leaves  the 
inference  that  its  author  was  a  Mason  who  had  attained  those 
degrees  though  he  does  not  distinctly  say  so.  Another  account 
says  that  he  was  a  bricklayer  and  stone  mason,  and  a  native  of 
Massachusetts.*  Morgan  in  his  book  gives  no  account  of  him- 
self, but  iterates  and  reiterates  in  the  most  positive  language 
the  statement  that  he  was  not  then  and  had  never  been  a  member 
of  the  Masonic  fraternity,  and  that  in  publishing  his  revelations 
he  violated  no  Masonic  oath,  for  he  had  never  taken  one.  How, 
then,  could  he  reveal  the  mysteries  of  the  Masonic  Craft?  Simply 
by  having  them  revealed  to  him  by  some  one  who  was  a  Mason, 
and  such  an  one  was  his  coadjutor,  David  C.  Miller,  of  Batavia, 
who  was  to  print  his  books  and  share  his  profits.  There  is  no 
absolutely  certainty  that  Morgan  wrote  the  revelations  that  were 
published  in  his  name,  but  if  he  did,  he  was  not  a  Mason,  unless 
his  solemn  assertions  on  that  point  are  false.     Regarding  his 

*  Morgan  was  a  Virginian  and  a  mason  by  trade.  Having  accumulated  a 
little  money  in  that  occupation  he  removed  to  Richmond  and  began  merchan- 
dizing in  a  retail  way.  From  there  he  went  to  Canada  where  he  engaged  in 
brewing.  A  fire  destroying  his  brewery  he  was  left  penniless,  and  resumed 
his  mechanical  work,  at  first  in  Rochester,  and  later  in  Batavia.  He  married  in 
Virginia  a  Miss  Pendleton  who  at  the  time  of  his  abduction  was  only  four  and 
twenty,  and  was  left  penniless,  with  a  child  in  arms  and  one  about  two  years 
of  age,  dependent  on  her  for  support. 


trade  or  profession  it  is  safe  to  conclude  that  he  was  not  a 
printer,  for  had  he  been  he  could  have  put  his  "  copy  "  into  type 
himself,  and  destroyed  his  manuscript  as  he  went  along.  I 
assume,  therefore,  the  truth  of  the  statement  that  he  was  a  stone- 
mason, and  might  have  been  a  member  of  the  original  craft, 
had  he  lived  in  the  days  of  Hiram  Abbiff  and  King  Solomon's 
Temple.  But  whatever  was  his  vocation,  it  seems  reasonably 
certain  that  up  to  the  time  when  he  threatened  to  reveal  Masonic 
secrets  he  had  not  been  successful  in  life,  and  that  his  pamphlet 
was  to  be  published  with  a  view  to  pecuniary  profit.  His  am- 
bition to  better  his  fortune  was  shared  by  his  partner,  Miller, 
who,  neither  before  nor  after  the  Anti-Masonic  excitement,  was 
a  man  who  stood  well  in  the  community  where  he  lived.  But  if 
Miller  was  to  share  the  pecuniary  rewards  of  his  partner  he 
also  had  to  share  his  persecutions.  Members  of  the  Masonic 
order  learning  that  he  was  about  to  publish  a  book  revealing  the 
secrets  of  their  craft  took  active  measures  to  suppress  it,  and 
made  a  number  of  attempts  to  obtain  possession  of  the  "  copy." 
In  fact,  Miller  was  the  first  though  not  the  greater  martyr. 
Very  much  the  same  tactics  were  resorted  to  in  his  case  as  were 
afterward  employed  against  Morgan.  In  August,  1826,  he  was 
arrested  in  a  civil  action,  but  obtained  bail.  His  bondsman  after 
a  few  days  had  elapsed  surrendered  him  to  the  sheriff,  and  on 
a  Saturday  afternoon  he  was  lodged  in  jail.  Be  it  remembered 
that  in  those  days  imprisonment  for  debt  was  the  law  of  the  land. 
The  object  of  his  incarceration  seems  to  have  been  to  get  him 
out  of  the  way,  while  his  lodgings  and  the  premises  where  the 
revelations  were  to  be  printed  could  be  searched.  His  perse- 
cutors were  not  rewarded  by  a  discovery  of  the  objectionable 
manuscript,  and  in  their  disappointment  fired  the  building  sup- 
posed to  contain  it.  The  incendiary  attempt  was  discovered  in 
time  to  be  frustrated.  On  the  12th  of  September,  Miller  was 
arrested  on  a  warrant  issued  by  a  justice  of  the  peace  of  the 
village  of  LeRoy,  and  in  charge  of  a  constable  started  for  the 
office  of  the  magistrate  issuing  the  process.  The  annoyances, 
threats,  and  arrests  to  which  he  had  already  been  subjected, 
had  aroused  his  friends  and  neighbors,  and  a  number  of  them 
followed  him  to  see  that  he  met  with  no  foul  play.  At 
Stafford,  a  town  on  the  road,  he  was  taken  from  the  carriage 
in  which  he  was  being  driven,  to  a  Masonic  lodge,  and  an  effort 
was  made  to  so  far  intimidate  him  as  to  obtain  the  embryo  reve- 


lations.  A  large  party  of  his  friends  gathered  in  front  of  the 
lodge  and  demanded  his  release.  He  was  brought  out,  saw 
counsel,  and  learned  for  the  first  time  what  was  the  nature  of  the 
charge  against  him.  It  was  a  civil  action  for  debt,  but  all  bail 
was  refused.  Both  parties  then  set  out  for  LeRoy,  and  on 
arrival  he  demanded  that  his  case  should  be  heard  at  once.  His 
friends  were  so  numerous  and  determined,  that  his  demand  was 
acceded  to,  and  discharge  at  once  followed,  as  no  evidence  was 
found  against  him.  He  hastened  his  return  to  Batavia,  his 
friends  foiling  an  attempt  to  rearrest  him.  In  September,  1827, 
three  of  the  parties  engaged  in  this  outrage  upon  personal  lib- 
erty and  private  rights  were  tried  for  false  imprisonment,  riot, 
and  assault  and  battery,  and  were  convicted  and  sentenced  to 
different  terms  of  imprisonment  in  the  county  jail. 

It  may  be  very  well  imagined  that  such  transactions  as  these 
produced  a  powerful  sensation  in  the  communities  where  they 
occurred,  but  the  fire  that  glowed  with  such  fervent  heat  at  a 
later  period  burnt  slowly  at  first,  principally  because  of  the 
difficulties  thrown  in  the  way  of  everyone  attempting  an  investi- 
gation, and  because  of  the  truth  of  the  adage  that  "  what  is 
everybody's  business  is  nobody's."  Another  reason  grew  out  of 
the  fact  that  a  gubernatorial  election  was  going  forward,  and 
as  both  candidates  were  Masons  there  was  no  opportunity  for 
connecting  these  events  with  politics.  Anti-Masonry  at  this 
time  had  hardly  spread  beyond  the  villages  of  Batavia,  LeRoy, 
Canandaigua,  Rochester,  and  Lockport.  East  of  Cayuga 
Bridge  a  majority  of  the  voters,  whether  Clintonians  or  Buck- 
tails,  went  to  the  polls  in  blissful  ignorance  of  the  false  im- 
prisonment of  Miller  or  of  the  abduction  of  Morgan.  Railroads 
and  electric  telegraphs  had  not  yet  been  introduced,  and  the 
hebdomadal  stage  coach  was  not  an  active  disseminator  of  news. 
DeWitt  Clinton  was  elected  governor.  He  was  a  Mason,  holding 
the  highest  degree  then  conferred  by  the  order.  Had  his  oppon- 
ent, Judge  Rochester,  not  been  a  member  of  the  fraternity,  there 
is  little  doubt  that  the  western  counties  would  at  that  early  period 
have  given  him  a  sufficient  number  of  votes  to  have  made  him 
governor.  But  he  and  his  competitor  were  tarred  with  the  same 
stick,  though  not  in  the  same  degree. 

In  endeavoring  to  give  some  account  of  the  excitement  which 
followed  in  the  wake  of  these  events  and,  for  more  than  five 
years,  absorbed  the   public  mind   to  the   exclusion   of  almost 


every  other  subject,  I  wish  it  to  be  understood  that,  in  speaking 
of  one  of  the  parties  to  the  controversy  as  "  the  people " 
the  designation  includes  not  that  large  class  alone  which  is 
opposed  to  all  secret  societies,  but  also  the  larger  class  of 
law-abiding  citizens,  who,  caring  not  one  straw  whether  their 
neighbors  were  or  were  not  members  of  the  Masonic  order,  were 
commendably  indignant  against  the  hot-headed,  active,  and  crim- 
inally-zealous members  of  the  fraternity,  who  had  bid  defiance  to 
the  laws  of  the  State,  and  the  authority  of  its  courts,  and  had 
constituted  themselves  judges,  jurors,  and  executioners  of  an 
American  citizen  against  whom  no  offense  punishable  by  our 
statutes  had  been  proven  or  even  alleged.  And,  on  the  other 
hand,  there  were  many  Masons  of  that  class  which  took  no  active 
part  in  lodge  matters,  and  had  not  in  fact  attended  a  lodge  meet- 
ing for  years,  who  disapproved  of  any  criminal  offense  against 
the  laws  on  the  part  of  their  impulsive  brethren.  But  this  class 
to  a  very  great  extent  was  forced  into  an  attitude  of  defense  if 
not  hostility  by  the  intemperate  denunciation  of  Anti-Masons, 
who  charged  the  Masonic  order,  and  every  individual  member  of 
it,  with  being  guilty  of  the  crime  which  had  been  committed 
by  zealous,  impulsive,  and  wrong-headed  lodge-going  members. 
The  gubernatorial  election  being  settled,  the  people  who  were 
cognizant  of  the  fact  that  Morgan,  after  being  discharged  from 
the  custody  of  the  law,  had  been  illegally  and  violently  seized, 
and  had  disappeared  no  one  knew  whither,  began  to  investigate 
the  matter  with  a  view  to  solving  the  mystery  surrounding  the 
affair,  and  ascertaining  whether  a  crime  had  been  committed,  and 
if  so,  by  whom.  A  public  meeting  having  these  objects  in  view 
was  called  at  Batavia  and  a  committee  was  appointed  which  at 
once  proceeded  to  Canandaigua  and  began  a  searching  inquiry 
after  Morgan.  The  facts  ascertained  by  the  committee  have 
already  been  stated.  When  made  public  they  produced  a  power- 
ful impression  in  the  community,  and  meetings  were  called  in 
other  places,  particularly  in  those  towns  through  which  the 
prisoner  had  been  conducted,  with  a  view  of  ascertaining  the 
fate  he  had  met  at  the  hands  of  his  captors.  No  definite  con- 
clusion was  reached,  but  the  facts  elicited  pointed  to  the  com- 
mission of  a  flagrant  crime,  and  aroused  the  suspicion  that  it 
was  attended  by  the  sacrifice  of  human  life.  These  public  meet- 
ings, and  the  investigating  committees  appointed  by  them,  were 
composed  of  citizens  of  all  creeds  and  all  shades  of  political 



opinion,  and  in  many  places  Masons  were  invited  to  attend  them 
and  assist  in  the  investigations,  and  were  urged,  in  order  to  avoid 
a  stigma  upon  their  institution,  to  assist  in  upholding  the  violated 
majesty  of  the  law.  Very  little  encouragement  was  met  with 
from  Masonic  sources,  and  with  scarce  an  exception  no  Mason 
aided  the  early  attempts  to  uncover  the  mystery  connected  with 
Morgan's  abduction  and  disappearance.  On  the  contrary, 
Masons  as  a  body  cast  ridicule  upon  these  meetings  and  the  com- 
mittees appointed  by  them,  and  justified  openly  and  publicly 
whatever  acts  had  been  committed  by  their  brethren  in  punish- 
ment of  Morgan  for  the  attempt  they  believed  he  was  about  to 
make  to  reveal  the  secrets  of  their  order.  The  committees  were 
told  that  the  governor,  the  judges,  jurors,  sheriffs,  and  wit- 
nesses were  all  Masons,  and  were  openly  defied  and  taunted  with 
their  inability  to  bring  punishment  upon  any  one  connected 
with  their  high-handed  violation  of  the  laws  of  the  State  and 
the  liberty  and  safety  of  one  of  its  citizens.  It  need  hardly  be 
said  that  this  tone  was  met  and  repelled  by  one  equally  bitter  and 
galling.  Masons  were  denounced  to  their  faces  as  murderers 
and  justifiers  of  murder,  as  cutthroats  and  outlaws,  and  the 
Masonic  institution  was  charged  with  being,  by  its  constitution, 
rules,  and  oaths,  inimical  to  the  laws  of  the  land,  and  the  obliga- 
tions of  good  citizenship  and  good  neighborhood.  Its  existence 
was  denounced  as  dangerous  to  the  common  weal,  and  its  absolute 
suppression  by  statute  was  strongly  demanded. 

Stimulated  by  mutual  accusation  and  retort  the  excitement 
rose  to  fever  heat  and  it  is  a  marvel  that  internecine  strife  was 
avoided.  Chancellor  Whittelsey  has  well  said  "  that  the  public 
feeling  was  lashed  into  such  a  state  of  intense  fury  that  under 
almost  any  other  government  the  outbreak  would  have  culmi- 
nated in  horror  and  bloodshed,  and  must  have  done  so  here  but  for 
the  safety  valve  provided  by  our  institutions,  the  ballot  box." 
When  the  committees  or  caucuses  met  in  a  number  of  the  western 
counties  in  the  spring  of  1827  to  nominate  candidates  for  town 
officers,  it  was  pretty  generally  resolved  and  carried  that  no  Free- 
mason should  be  supported,  as  they  "  were  unfit  to  be  voted  for 
by  freemen,  or  to  hold  any  office  of  trust  in  the  community." 
In  this  way  the  ballot  box  was  introduced  into  the  controversy, 
and  political  Anti-Masonry  had  its  origin. 

In  January,  1827,  Loton  Lawson,  Nicholas  G.  Chesebro,  John 
Sheldon,  and  Edward  Sawyer  were  arraigned  at  Canandaigua 


before  Judge  Enos  T.  Throop,  afterward  governor  of  the  State, 
charged  with  "  conspiracy  to  abduct."  Developments  were  ex- 
pected which  would  unravel  the  mystery  surrounding  the  fate  of 
Morgan,  and  the  disappointment  was  very  great  when  the  in- 
culpated parties  pleaded  guilty,  and  thus  avoided  any  probing 
of  the  affair  by  the  counsel  for  the  prosecution.  In  sentencing 
the  prisoners  Judge  Throop  addressed  them  as  follows :  "  Your 
conduct  has  created  in  the  people  of  this  section  of  the  country 
a  strong  feeling  of  virtuous  indignation.  The  court  rejoices 
to  witness  it, — to  be  made  certain  that  a  citizen's  person  cannot 
be  invaded  by  lawless  violence  without  its  being  felt  by  every  indi- 
vidual in  the  community.  It  is  a  blessed  spirit,  and  we  do  hope 
that  it  will  not  subside ;  that  it  will  be  accompanied  by  a  ceaseless 
vigilance  and  untiring  activity,  until  every  actor  in  this  profligate 
conspiracy  is  hunted  from  his  hiding  place  and  brought  before 
the  tribunals  of  his  country  to  receive  the  punishment  merited  by 
his  crime.  We  think  we  see  in  this  public  sensation 
the  spirit  which  brought  us  into  existence  as  a  nation, 
and  a  pledge  that  our  rights  and  liberties  are  destined 
to  endure."  Three  years  later  this  judge,  acting  as 
governor,  in  his  message  to  the  legislature,  spoke  of 
the  Anti-Masonic  excitement  as  "  originating  in  an  honest  zeal 
overflowing  its  proper  boundaries,  misdirected  in  its  efforts,  and 
carrying  into  public  affairs  matters  properly  belonging  to  social 
discipline."  And  this  same  judge,  acting  as  governor,  re- 
fused to  turn  over  to  John  C.  Spencer,  the  attorney  specially 
appointed  by  the  State  to  untangle  the  web  of  what 
the  governor,  acting  as  judge,  had  denounced  as  "this 
profligate  conspiracy,"  the  reward  of  two  thousand  dol- 
lars which  Governor  Clinton  had  offered  for  the  very 
purpose  to  which  Mr.  Spencer  wished  to  apply  it.  And 
furthermore,  Mr.  Spencer  in  his  letter  of  resignation  following 
the  refusal  of  acting  Governor  Throop,  complained  that  even 
his  confidential  communications  to  the  governor  in  relation  to 
the  conspiracy  had  been  disclosed  to  the  counsel  for  the  con- 
spirators. Judge  Throop  had  become  governor  by  the  ap- 
pointment of  Martin  Van  Buren  to  a  seat  in  General  Jackson's 
cabinet.  He  wished  to  become  governor  by  a  vote  of  the  people, 
and  probably  thought  the  "  eftest  way  "  to  accomplish  his  desire 
would  be  to  throw  cold  water  in  1830  on  the  "  righteous  spirit 
of  virtuous  indignation  "  which  as  judge  he  so  strongly  com- 


mended  in   1827.     Very  honest  judges   sometimes  make  very 
shrewd  politicians. 

The  result  of  this  trial  served  only  to  increase  the  Anti-Masonic 
excitement.  It  was  alleged,  and  with  apparent  reason,  that  by 
pleading  guilty  and  thus  preventing  the  introduction  of  evidence, 
the  Masons  had  tacitly  admitted  that  their  acts  would  not  stand 
the  test  of  judicial  investigation,  and  the  demand  for  a  searching 
legal  inquiry  became  so  powerful  that  acting  governor  Pitcher 
(he  became  governor  by  the  death  while  in  office  of  DeWitt 
Clinton)  recommended  to  the  legislature  the  passage  of  a  law 
appointing  a  special  attorney  to  take  charge,  on  behalf  of  the 
State,  of  all  legal  proceedings  connected  with  Morgan's  fate. 
The  recommendation  became  a  law,  although  unasked  for,  and 
even  opposed  by  the  Anti-Masons,  and  Daniel  Moseley,  a  dis- 
tinguished member  of  the  Onondaga  bar,  received  the  appoint- 
ment. He  had  hardly  formed  his  plan  for  the  prosecution  of 
these  cases  when  he  was  made  a  judge  of  one  of  the  circuits  of 
the  State,  and  accepted  the  position.  Governor  Van  Buren,  who 
had  succeeded  acting  Governor  Pitcher,  promptly  appointed 
John  C.  Spencer  of  Canandaigua  Mr.  Moseley's  successor.  Mr. 
Van  Buren  showed  his  usual  acumen  in  selecting  a  political  op- 
ponent as  public  prosecutor.  The  position  required  not  only 
a  man  of  high  legal  attainments  but  of  great  moral  and  physical 
courage,  as  the  sequel  will  show.  If  Mr.  Spencer  succeeded, 
he  was  sure  to  bring  upon  himself  the  wrath  of  the  entire 
Masonic  fraternity ;  if  he  failed,  he  was  equally  certain  to  be 
denounced  by  the  Anti-Masons.  Success  would  bring  credit  to 
the  governor  making  the  appointment,  while  failure  would  dam- 
age a  formidable  political  opponent.  Mr.  Van  Buren  certainly 
earned  the  designation  of  The  Fox  of  Kinderhook.  But  what- 
ever may  have  been  the  governor's  motive  in  making  it,  the 
appointment  gave  entire  satisfaction  to  even  the  most  rabid 
leaders  of  the  Anti-Masonic  movement.  Mr.  Spencer  was  thor- 
oughly imbued  with  the  idea  that  a  horrible  crime  had  been  com- 
mitted ;  not  so  much  by  individuals,  who  were  merely  its  agents, 
as  by  a  secret  society,  bound  together  by  oaths  of  horrid  import ; 
and  he  believed  with  all  the  earnestness  of  his  strong  and  austere 
nature  that  the  existence  of  such  a  society,  capable  not  only  of 
performing  deeds  of  violence  and  murder  but  bound  in  certain 
cases  by  the  terms  of  its  organization  to  perform  them,  was  a 
menace  to  the  individual,  to  society,  and  to  the  State.     He 


entered  upon  the  discharge  of  his  duties  with  characteristic  zeal 
and  determination,  and  his  profound  ability  and  wide  and  varied 
experience  as  a  lawyer  encouraged  the  hope,  and  warranted  the 
expectation,  that  the  perpetrators  of  this  bold  crime  would  be 
unmasked  and  brought  to  justice.  Keen  and  experienced  de- 
tectives were  employed  to  lay  it  bare,  and  every  scheme  prom- 
ising success  was  pushed  with  renewed  vigor  by  Mr.  Spencer. 
Of  course,  all  this  brought  upon  him  a  storm  of  hostile  criticism 
from  the  Masonic  fraternity,  and  provoked  the  bitter  enmity 
of  all  who  were  in  any  way  connected  with  the  fate  of  Morgan. 
Mr.  Spencer's  friends  became  seriously  fearful  for  his  safety. 
They  represented  to  him  that  if,  as  he  believed,  assassins  had 
abducted  and  made  way  with  Morgan,  they  were  quite  capable 
of  an  attempt  upon  himself.  But  in  spite  of  the  fears  of  his 
family  and  friends,  and  of  a  number  of  anonymous  letters  con- 
taining most  fearful  threats,  he  continued  to  perform  his  duties 
as  public  prosecutor  with  unflinching  vigor  and  determination. 
Two  of  these  letters  read  as  follows : 

"  To  John  C.  Spencer :   Sir  — 

"As  you  are  seeking  the  blood  of  those  who  never  injured  you, 
remember  that  your  own  blood  will  run  quite  as  easily  and  as  red 
as  theirs.     Therefore  Beware!    Beware  !  ! 


"  To  Hon.  John  C.  Spencer  : 

"  Dear  Sir  —  Your  life  is  in  danger  !  Assassins  are  upon  your 
track !  Do  not  regard  this  warning  lightly,  but  look  to  your- 
self, for  you  are  watched  by  secret  foes ! 

A  Friend." 

To  these  and  other  anonymous  communications,  whether  from 
blustering  foes  or  pretending  friends,  Mr.  Spencer  gave  little 
heed.  But  the  rule  that  the  writer  of  an  anonymous  letter  is 
prima  facie  a  coward,  and  that  anyone  seriously  intending  to  do 
bodily  harm  to  another  in  a  stealthy  manner  will  never  advertise 
the  intention,  did  not  hold  good  in  this  case.  Two  attempts 
upon  his  life  were  made  within  a  short  time  of  each  other,  but 
both  were  fortunately  unsuccessful.  On  his  way  from  his  office 
to  his  residence,  on  a  dark  night,  a  desperate  thrust  was  made  at 
him  by  a  man  armed  with  a  short,  straight  sword  drawn  from  a 



/  7 


cane.  The  lunge  would  probably  have  proved  fatal,  had  not  the 
assassin  stumbled  over  a  stone  as  he  sprang  towards  Mr.  Spen- 
cer, thereby  causing  his  weapon  to  err  in  its  aim.  Before  he 
could  recover  himself  and  repeat  the  attempt,  the  assailant  was 
disarmed  and  arrested,  but,  with  what  was  thought  by  many  to  be 
misplaced  leniency,  Mr.  Spencer  refused  to  prosecute  him,  and 
he  was  discharged. 

Shortly  after  this,  while  returning  alone  from  a  professional 
visit  to  an  adjoining  town,  night  overtook  him  while  yet  a  number 
of  miles  from  home.  The  weather  was  balmy,  the  road  good,  and 
he  permitted  his  horse  to  move  slowly  along,  when,  suddenly, 
a  bullet  whistled  past  his  head,  and  the  sharp  crack  of  a  rifle 
rang  in  his  ears.  Putting  spurs  to  his  horse  he  reached  home 
in  safety,  escaping  the  assassin's  bullet  as  he  had  his  dagger. 

It  was  most  fortunate  that  neither  of  these  attempts  succeeded. 
The  public  mind  was  not  in  a  state  to  bear  additional  excitement, 
and  it  is  not  pleasant,  and  perhaps  not  wise,  to  think  of  the 
consequences  that  might  have  followed  the  assassination  of  the 
special  prosecuting  officer  employed  by  the  State  to  examine  into 
the  offence  committed,  and  if  possible  to  unearth  and  bring  to 
justice  those  who  had  committed  it.  One  of  the  least  harmful 
of  these  consequences  would  have  been  the  election  of  an  Anti- 
Masonic  governor  and  legislature,  and  the  enactment  of  laws 
hostile  if  not  fatal  to  the  existence  of  the  Masonic  order  in  our 

Of  course,  members  of  the  order  said,  and  still  say,  that  there 
was  no  intention  to  take  the  life  of  Mr.  Spenecr;  that  these 
attempts  were  made  for  the  purpose  of  intimidating  him  only ; 
but  whatever  may  have  been  the  intent  of  the  erring  marksman, 
there  is  little  doubt  that  the  party  with  the  sword-cane  was  in 
dead  earnest,  and  was  only  prevented  from  executing  his  pur- 
pose by  the  stumble  which  misdirected  his  aim. 

But  whether  meant  or  not,  the  threatening  letters,  and  at- 
tempts upon  him  with  dagger  and  bullet,  had  no  effect  to  turn 
Mr.  Spencer  from  the  performance  of  the  duties  entrusted  to 
him  by  the  government  of  the  State.  He  laid  the  iron  hand  of 
the  law  upon  all  whom  he  believed  to  be  concerned  in  the  dark 
deed  against  Morgan.  Many  prominent  persons  were  arrested 
and  indicted,  and  a  number  of  them  pleaded  guilty  to  the  charge 
of  conspiring  to  abduct  the  man  who  had  so  mysteriously  dis- 
appeared from  human  vision. 


Among  the  more  important  trials  that  took  place  were  the 
People  against  Mather,  and  the  People  aganist  Jewett.  Being 
regarded  as  test  cases,  these  trials  excited  intense  interest,  and 
were  watched  by  crowds  of  eager  partisans,  both  of  the  accused 
and  accusers.  The  case  of  Mather  was  heard  at  the  Orleans 
circuit  before  Judge  Addison  Gardiner.  He  was  fully  aware 
of  the  heated  state  of  the  public  mind,  and  of  the  demands  of 
public  clamor,  but  casting  away  all  such  considerations  he  stood 
firmly  for  justice  as  interpreted  by  the  law,  believing  it  to  be 
the  "  end  of  government,  and  of  civil  society."  His  decision 
during  the  progress  of  the  trial  that  a  witness  —  one  William 
Daniels  —  need  not  answer  a  question  put  by  the  public  prose- 
cutor on  the  ground  that  a  direct  answer  would  criminate  him, 
and  tend  toward  his  infamy  and  disgrace,  was  fatal  to  the  case 
of  the  People,  the  jury  after  a  protracted  cousultation  bring- 
ing in  a  verdict  of  not  guilty.  The  result  disappointed  and 
irritated  Mr.  Spencer,  as  he  believed  Mather  to  be  guilty,  and  he 
at  once  moved  for  a  new  trial  on  the  grounds  of  misdirection  by 
Judge  Gardiner  in  the  case  of  this  particular  witness,  and  of 
errors  in  various  other  rulings.  The  appeal  was  heard  before 
the  general  term  of  the  Supreme  Court  in  September,  1830, 
Hon.  William  L.  Marcy  presiding.  In  contending  for  a  new 
trial,  Mr.  Spencer  brought  all  his  remarkable  powers  of  mind  and 
all  his  vast  resources  as  a  lawyer  to  bear  upon  the  court,  but  a 
majority  of  the  judges  were  against  him,  and  with  their  de- 
cision the  case  rested  forever.  Its  trial  however  elicited  facts 
and  unfolded  circumstances  strongly  inculpating  others,  and  led 
to  the  trial  of  the  other  case  mentioned  —  the  People  against 

The  acquittal  of  Mather  served  rather  to  intensify  than  to 
allay  the  Anti-Masonic  excitement.  It  was  contended  with  great 
bitterness  and  acrimony  that  his  escape  was  due  to  legal  techni- 
calities and  quibbles,  and  that  if  the  public  prosecutor  had  not 
been  prevented  by  the  court  from  proving  his  case,  conviction  and 
not  acquittal  must  have  been  the  verdict. 

It  is  not,  then,  to  be  wondered  at  that  the  town  of  Lockport, 
where  the  trial  of  Jewett  took  place,  was  thronged  by  a  crowd 
of  vehement  and  turbulent  persons,  a  majority  of  whom  were 
Anti-Masons.  In  this  case  Hon.  William  L.  Marcy  presided, 
and  controlled  with  quiet  but  firm  dignity,  and  unswerving  im- 
partiality, the  participants  in  the  trial  and  the  excited  spec- 


tators  of  the  scene.  The  accused.  Colonel  Ezekiel  Jewett,  was 
the  most  prominent  person  yet  brought  before  the  courts  for  com- 
plicity in  the  mysterious  taking  off  of  Morgan.  He  was  com- 
mander of  Fort  Niagara,  where  the  abductors  had  confined  their 
prisoner,  and  from  whence  he  had  disappeared,  as  it  proved, 
forever.  This  time  conviction  seemed  certain.  The  strong 
hand  of  the  law  held  the  prisoner  firmly  in  its  grasp,  and  Mr. 
Spencer,  who  had  labored  with  untiring  zeal,  and  had  devoted 
every  resource  of  his  strong  intellect  and  profound  legal  at- 
tainments to  the  task  of  unmasking  the  great  offence,  now  be- 
lieved that  the  hour  of  triumph  had  come. 

There  was  one  man  who  knew,  or  was  believed  to  know,  all 
about  the  guilt  or  innocence  of  the  accused.  This  man  was 
Orsamus  Turner.  He  took  the  witness  stand  amid  a  silence 
that  was  almost  audible  and  a  hushed  expectation  almost  pain- 
ful. The  audience  that  crowded  the  court  room  believed  that 
the  fate  of  William  Morgan  was  now  to  be  revealed.  The  pre- 
liminary questions  were  put  by  Mr.  Spencer  in  a  tone  and  man- 
ner that  indicated  the  importance  of  the  testimony  he  expected 
to  elicit.  These  questions  were  answered  with  self-possession 
and  in  a  firm  tone  by  the  witness,  but  when  the  vital  point  was 
reached,  and  the  question  was  put,  the  answer  to  which  was  ex- 
pected to  show  conclusively  the  guilt  of  the  accused,  a  paleness 
overspread  Turner's  face,  his  mouth  closed  with  rigid  firm- 
ness, a  look  of  determined  obstinacy  flashed  from  his  eyes,  but 
no  answer  came  from  his  defiant  lips.  It  is  useless  to  attempt 
any  description  of  the  intense  and  painful  interest  which  per- 
vaded the  vast  audience,  and  almost  suspended  the  respiration 
of  those  composing  it,  while  awaiting  the  answer  of  the  witness 
and  during  the  first  few  moments  after  it  was  seen  that  none 
could  be  expected.  The  deep  voice  of  William  L.  Marcy  broke 
the  almost  smothering  silence.  In  a  tone  that  conveyed  every 
emotion  excited  by  the  scene  he  said :  "  Witness,  are  you  aware  of 
the  consequences  of  your  refusal  to  answer  ?  "  "  I  am,"  was 
the  firm  reply.  In  authoritative,  dignified,  and  most  impressive 
language,  Judge  Marcy  depicted  to  Turner  the  evil  conse- 
quences to  himself  and  to  society  that  would  flow  from  his  ob- 
stinacy, and  said  "  the  court  still  gives  you  an  opportunity  to 
avoid  the  punishment  which  will  surely  follow  your  rash  con- 
tumacy; answer  the  counsel's  question."  The  question  was  re- 
peated by  Mr.  Spencer.     A  faint  flush  succeeding  his  pallor  was 


the  only  indication  given  by  the  witness  that  he  had  heard  it. 
Another  profound  silence,  of  sufficient  duration  to  indicate  that 
no  answer  could  be  elicited,  was  broken  by  the  judge  who  said, — 
"  Sheriff,  convey  the  witness  to  the  common  jail,  and  keep  him 
in  solitary  confinement  until  you  are  directed  to  release  him  by 
the  court."  Turner  was  taken  by  the  Sheriff  and  a  number 
of  assistants  to  Lockport  jail.  But  long  and  weary  as  was  his 
incarceration  it  served  only  to  increase  his  obstinacy,  and  so  far 
as  the  fate  of  Morgan  is  concerned  his  lips  remained  forever 

Although  Mr.  Spencer  was  again  thwarted  in  his  attempt  to 
convict  one  of  the  conspirators  in  what  he  thought  was  a  dark 
crime,  his  efforts  to  bring  it  to  the  light  were  not  abated,  and  his 
faith  in  ultimate  success  remained  unshaken.  The  secret  de- 
tectives employed  by  the  State  revealed  to  him  the  names  of  other 
implicated  parties,  whose  prosecution  he  determined  upon,  but  in 
order  to  proceed  with  a  reasonable  chance  of  success  he  asked  of 
the  State  that  the  sum  of  two  thousand  dollars  —  the  amount  of 
the  reward  offered  by  Gov.  Clinton  —  be  turned  over  to  his  use. 
He  thought  this  moderate  amount  was  necessary  to  procure  the 
attendance  of  witnesses,  pay  for  further  detective  service,  and 
carry  out  other  plans  he  had  made  for  successfully  performing 
the  duties  devolving  upon  him  as  public  prosecutor  by  the  State 
authorities.  Greatly  to  his  surprise  acting  Governor  Throop  re- 
fused to  accede  to  his  demand.  Mr.  Spencer  at  once  tendered 
his  resignation,  and  retired  from  a  contest  which  had  so  long 
enlisted  his  earnest  sympathies  as  a  man,  his  eminent  ability  as 
a  lawyer,  and  his  splendid  powers  as  an  advocate.  He  retired 
from  the  field  with  full  confidence  that  victory  was  within  his 

With  his  withdrawal  interest  in  the  legal  aspects  of  the  case 
began  to  abate.  The  statute  of  limitation  intervened  to  prevent 
further  prosecution  for  anything  except  murder,  and  no  charge 
for  that  crime  could  be  maintained  without  producing  the  body 

*  Orsamus  Turner  was  a  printer  by  trade,  and  wrote  a  history  of  the  Phelps 
and  Gorharn  and  of  the  Holland  Purchase.  Together  with  Eli  Bruce  and  Jared 
Darrow  he  was  indicted  for  a  conspiracy  to  kidnap  and  carry  away  William 
Morgan,  and  was  tried  at  the  Ontario  County  General  Sessions  in  August, 
1828.  Bruce  was  convicted.  A  verdict  of  not  guilty  was  returned  in  favor  of 
Turner  and  Darrow.  Turner  remained  in  jail  until  all  further  prosecution  of 
the  abductors  of  Morgan  was  abandoned.  When  set  at  liberty  he  was  received 
by  a  large  body  of  Masons  mounted  on  horseback,  and  was  escorted  through 
the  principal  streets  of  Lockport  to  his  home. 



of  the  victim,  and  demonstrating  by  evidence  that  it  had  been 
foully  dealt  by.  The  corpus  delicti  was  wanting;  and  the  say- 
ing, "  that  it  is  easy  enough  to  kill  a  man  but  very  hard  to  get 
rid  of  the  body,"  once  more  proves  that  there  is  no  rule  without 
an  exception,  and  the  fate  of  Morgan  remains  forever  shrouded 
in  the  mystery  which  from  the  first  has  surrounded  it. 

But  though  it  seemed  impossible  to  procure  testimony  that 
would  convict  the  presumed  slayers  of  Morgan,  interest  in  his 
fate,  and  acrimonious  and  heated  discussions  concerning  it,  by 
no  means  ceased.  In  the  case  of  Mather  Judge  Gardiner  had 
decided  that  a  witness  need  not  answer  an  incriminating  question ; 
and  on  appeal  had  been  sustained  by  a  majority  of  the  full 
bench.  If  this  provoked  indignation  and  hostile  criticism  from 
Anti-Masons,  it  may  well  be  imagined  that  their  tongues  and 
pens  were  not  silent  over  the  refusal  of  Turner  to  reply  to  a 
vital  interrogatory,  though  commanded  by  the  law,  and  its 
minister  Judge  Marcy,  to  do  so.  It  was  vehemently  and  logic- 
ally asserted  that  a  truthful  answer  to  Mr.  Spencer's  question 
must  have  revealed  the  secret  of  Morgan's  murder  and  convicted 
Jewett  of  guilty  participation  in  it.  Turner  had  only  to  open 
his  lips  falsely,  and  the  accused  would  have  walked  out  of  court 
free  and  exonerated.  But  he  was  a  man  of  too  much  honor  to 
violate  the  oath  he  had  taken  by  telling  a  falsehood,  and  of  too 
much  loyalty  to  his  friend  to  utter  the  words  that  would  have 
brought  upon  him  a  felon's  fate ;  he  therefore  maintained  an  ab- 
solute and  inflexible  silence  and  accepted  its  consequences.  All 
this  and  much  more  was  bitterly  urged  by  the  opponents  of 
Masonry.  Its  defenders  could  only  say  in  reply  that  the  evi- 
dence of  Turner  if  given  would  have  been  unimportant,  and  that 
his  obstinacy  in  refusing  to  testify  was  as  much  a  surprise  to 
them  as  to  any  one. 

Sometime  previous  to  these  trials  the  last  of  the  Anti-Masonic 
meetings  that  were  non-political  in  character  was  held  at  Lewis- 
ton.  It  was  made  up  chiefly  of  the  investigating  committees  ap- 
pointed by  some  half  dozen  previous  assemblages  in  various  towns 
who  had  met  to  compare  notes,  and  make  public  such  results  as 
they  had  arrived  at.  Their  conclusions  when  published,  some  time 
afterwards,  showed  to  their  own  satisfaction,  and  the  satisfaction 
of  those  who  reposed  confidence  in  them,  that  Morgan  had  been 
abducted  and  forcibly  carried  with  but  little  delay  from  Canan- 
daigua  to  Fort  Niagara,  had  been  confined  in  the  magazine  of 


the  fort  for  a  period  not  exceeding  ten  days,  and  had  been 
taken  thence,  and  there,  or  near  there,  had  been  put  to  death. 
There  seems  to  have  been  no  better  reason  for  arriving  at  this 
latter  conclusion  than  that  given  by  Lord  Byron,  in  Beppo : 

"  If  a  man  wont  let  us  know 
That  he's  alive,  he's  dead,  or  should  be  so." 

It  is  not  my  design  to  give  an  extended  account  of  political 
Anti-Masonry,  but  a  few  of  the  prominent  events  connected  with 
it  will  be  glanced  at.  The  first  political  convention  of  Anti- 
Masons  was  held  in  LeRoy  in  the  spring  of  1828.  Its  main 
object  seems  to  have  been  to  direct  the  public  mind  to  the  danger- 
ous tendencies  of  Freemasonry,  and  invoke  action  against  the 
order.  No  party  resolution  was  passed,  except  one  which  as- 
serted that  Freemasonry  and  free  government  could  not  coexist. 
It  recommended  the  calling  of  a  State  convention  at  Utica  in 
the  following  August,  and  appointed  Samuel  Works,  Henry  Ely, 
Frederick  F.  Bachus,  Frederick  Whittlesey,  and  Thurlow  Weed 
a  general  central  committee ;  and  these  gentlemen,  with  the  addi- 
tion of  Bates  Cook  and  Timothy  Fitch,  constituted  such  commit- 
tee so  long  as  Anti-Masonry  remained  a  political  issue. 

The  Utica  convention  met  according  to  appointment.  It  "  re- 
solved as  a  measure  necessary  to  counteract  the  influence  and 
destroy  the  existence  of  Masonic  societies,  that  it  is  expedient  for 
this  convention,  in  pursuit  of  the  good  objects  to  be  accom- 
plished, wholly  to  disregard  the  two  great  political  parties  that 
at  this  time  distract  the  State  and  nation,  in  the  choice  of  candi- 
dates for  office,  and  to  nominate  Anti-Masonic  candidates  for 
governor  and  lieutenant  governor;"  and  the  convention  accord- 
ingly named  Francis  Granger  of  Ontario  and  John  Crary  of 
Washington  County  for  these  positions.  Mr.  Granger  had 
already  been  put  in  nomination  for  the  office  of  lieutenant 
governor  by  the  National  Republican  party  on  a  ticket  headed 
by  Judge  Smith  Thompson  for  governor.  This  party  sup- 
ported Mr.  Adams  for  president,  and  Mr.  Granger  had  to  choose 
between  his  political  convictions,  which  were  anti-Jackson,  and 
his  social  and  moral  opinions  which  were  opposed  to  Masonry. 
He  accepted  the  nomination  for  lieutenant  governor  tendered  by 
the  National  Republicans,  and  was  roundly  abused  by  the  Anti- 
Masons  for  so  doing.     Almost  every  event  of  consequence  at 


this  time  seemed  to  stimulate  the  Anti-Masonic  excitement.  The 
people  denounced  Mr.  Granger  and  determined,  come  weal  come 
woe,  to  have  candidates  for  governor  and  lieutenant  governor 
who  represented  the  Anti-Masonic  sentiment.  In  their  hot- 
headed and  intemperate  zeal  they  went  off  half-cock  and  filled 
out  their  ticket  by  nominating  for  governor  in  place  of  Mr. 
Granger,  Solomon  Southwick  of  Albany.  Mr.  Crary  remained 
on  the  ticket  although  he  had  positively  promised  his  neighbor 
Samuel  Stevens  (who  was  specially  commissioned  to  see  him  re- 
garding the  matter)  to  write  a  letter  of  declination  as  soon  as 
possible  after  Mr.  Granger's  should  be  made  public.  Mr.  South- 
wick was  editor  of  a  newspaper  in  Albany,  but  was  what  practical, 
clear-headed  men  call  a  scatterbrain  and  blatherskite,  was  vision- 
ary, pompous,  and  self-assertive,  and,  through  these  and  other  de- 
fects of  character,  had  become  bankrupt  in  pecuniary  resources 
and  political  reputation.  He  had  been  a  Mason,  but  had  re- 
nounced his  associations  with  that  organization,  and  had  acted 
in  concert  with  recalcitrant  Masons  in  the  western  counties  in  pre- 
paring for  publication  a  general  renunciation  and  exposition  of 
Masonry.  Many  Anti-Masons  of  the  better  class  refused  to  sup- 
port him,  and  a  number  of  county  conventions  declined  to  concur 
in  his  nomination.  Messrs.  Van  Buren  and  Throop  were  elected 
by  a  minority  vote,  receiving  136,794  ballots  as  against  106,444 
for  Thompson  and  Granger,  and  33,345  for  Southwick  and 
Crary.  This  defeat  by  no  means  disheartened  the  Anti-Masonic 
party,  and  in  1829  they  elected  Albert  H.  Tracy  senator  from 
the  eighth  district  by  a  majority  of  8,000  votes,  and  carried  the 
counties  of  Erie,  Niagara,  Orleans,  Genesee,  Livingston,  Monroe, 
Allegany,  Cattaraugus,  Chautauqua,  Steuben,  Seneca,  and 
Washington,  polling,  as  was  computed,  about  67,000  votes. 

An  Anti-Masonic  convention  was  held  at  Albany  in  February, 
1829,  and  another  in  the  same  month  in  1830.  The  latter  as- 
semblage after  passage  of  the  usual  resolutions  denunciatory  of 
Masonry,  and  providing  for  calling  a  State  convention  to  nom- 
inate a  candidate  for  governor,  brought  forward  specific  charges 
against  the  grand  chapter  of  the  State  for  furnishing  funds  to 
aid  the  abductors  of  Morgan  in  escaping  from  justice,  and  peti- 
tioned the  legislature,  then  in  session,  to  appoint  a  committee  with 
authority  to  summon  witnesses,  and  send  for  persons  and  papers, 
to  the  end  that  the  action  of  the  grand  chapter  in  interfering 
with  the  administration  of  the  laws  might  be  thoroughly  sifted 


and  investigated.  By  referring  the  whole  matter  to  the  attorney 
general  the  legislature  in  effect  refused  the  committee,  and  the 
majority  of  that  body  were  charged  with  being  hostile  to  any 
inquiry  into  the  misdeeds  of  Masonry. 

A  State  convention  of  Anti-Masons  was  held  at  Utica  in  Au- 
gust, 1830.  The  party  had  forgotten  its  denunciation  of  Mr. 
Granger  for  refusing  to  accept  its  first  nomination,  and  placed 
him  at  the  head  of  its  ticket  with  Samuel  Stevens  of  New  York 
for  lieutenant  governor.  The  National  Republicans  generally 
concurred  in  these  nominations.  The  election  was  warmly  con- 
tested, and  resulted  in  the  election  of  Governor  Throop  by  a 
little  more  than  8,000  majority.  An  Anti-Masonic  national  con- 
vention met  in  Baltimore  in  1832  and  nominated  William  Wirt 
for  president.  He  was  defeated  by  Andrew  Jackson.  A  New 
York  convention  in  the  same  year  again  nominated  Francis 
Granger  for  governor  and  Samuel  Stevens  for  lieutenant  gov- 
ernor. They  were  defeated  by  William  L.  Marcy  by  nearly 
10,000  votes.  Tins  practically  ended  political  Anti-Masonry. 
It  was  thenceforward  merged  in  the  whig  party  which  came  into 
power  by  the  election  of  Mr.  Seward  as  governor  in  1838. 

In  looking  back  over  these  events  it  seems  a  marvel  that  Anti- 
Masonry  should  have  become  so  great  and  vital  a  power ;  dom- 
inating, as  it  did  for  more  than  four  years,  the  politics  of  the 
State  west  of  Cayuga  Bridge,  and  twice  coming  within  a  few 
thousand  votes  of  obtaining  mastery  from  Long  Island  to  Lake 
Erie.  Much  as  we  value  human  life  the  fate  of  no  one  individual 
could  have  been  the  sole  cause  of  kindling  and  keeping  alive 
for  years  the  fiery  indignation  of  the  people  against  the  institu- 
tion of  Masonry.  Above  and  beyond  all  thought  of  Morgan 
and  his  fate  was  the  settled  conviction  in  the  minds  of  law-abid- 
ing men  that  Masonry  required  of  its  adherents  such  oaths,  and 
the  performance  toward  each  other  of  such  obligations,  as  un- 
fitted them  for  the  duties  of  good  citizenship  in  any  community 
where  questions  of  life,  liberty,  and  property  might  arise  be- 
tween those  who  were  Masons  and  those  who  were  not.  There 
was  the  apparently  well-founded  belief  that  Masons  regarded 
the  secrets  of  their  craft  as  more  inviolable  than  the  laws  of  the 
land,  more  sacred  than  human  life,  and  that  the  one  might  be 
trampled  under  foot,  and  the  other  sacrificed,  to  prevent  the 
proceedings  within  a  Masonic  lodge  from  becoming  known  to 
anyone  outside  its  walls.     And  in  thus  exalting  the  laws  of  the 


lodge  above  the  law  of  the  land,  Masons  brought  upon  themselves 
a  storm  of  fiery  opposition  that  practically  annihilated  their 
order  in  Western  New  York,  seriously  threatened  its  existence 
throughout  the  State,  and  rendered  it  for  a  long  time  unpopular 
throughout  the  length  and  breadth  of  the  land. 

I  shall  venture  no  opinion  as  to  the  fate  of  William  Morgan. 
Members  of  the  Masonic  fraternity  have  always  asserted  in  the 
most  positive  way  that  his  life  was  not  taken  by  anyone  connected 
with  their  order.  The  following  letter  addressed  to  Mr.  Spencer 
during  his  connection  with  the  Anti-Masonic  trials  gives  the  cur- 
rent Masonic  view  of  his  disappearance : 

"Sir  — 

"  It  is  useless  for  you  to  attempt  to  convict  any  person  for 
killing  Morgan,  for  he  is  still  alive.  He  was  taken  to  Canada, 
the  Canada  lodges  refused  to  receive  him.  He  was  offered  a 
large  sum  of  money  to  leave  the  country  forever  and  to  leave 
immediately.  If  he  refused,  death  would  follow  sure  and  certain. 
As  he  published  his  book  for  money  he  was  willing  to  banish 
himself  for  a  price.  He  is  now  in  a  foreign  country  under  an 
assumed  name,  and  he  will  never  be  heard  from  again.  '  Murder 
will  out,'  they  say,  but  as  Morgan  was  never  murdered  there  is 
in  this  case  no  murder  to  come  out.  Time  will  pass  on,  you  will 
go  to  the  grave,  and  so  shall  I,  and  so  will  all  that  now  live,  but 
it  will  never  turn  out  that  Morgan  was  murdered. 

"  Invisible,  But  True." 

It  will  occur  to  most  people  that  if  the  statements  in  this 
letter  are  true  Morgan  was  a  more  mercenary  and  heartless 
wretch  than  even  his  detractors  have  charged  him  with  being. 
To  abandon  home,  and  country,  and  wife  and  children,  for  the 
traitorous  silver  of  Judas,  was  an  act  of  sordid  cruelty  almost 
beyond  belief. 

Judge  Hammond  in  his  "  Political  History  "  says :  I  assume 
as  a  historical  truth,  and  I  regret  that  I  am  compelled  to  do  so, 
that  William  Morgan  was,  with  a  view  of  preventing  the  dis- 
closure of  the  mysteries  of  Masonry,  murdered  in  cold  blood 
by  men  holding  a  respectable  rank  and  standing  in  society." 

Hon.  William  Marcy  who  wrote  the  opinion  of  the  full  bench 
in  the  case  of  the  People  against  Mather,  and  who  presided  at  the 
trial  of  Jewett,  was  probably  more  familiar  with  the  legal  aspects 


of  the  Anti-Masonic  cases  than  any  other  person  except  Mr. 
Spencer.  His  opinion  was  summarized  as  follows :  "  The  mys- 
terious obscurity  which  hangs  over  this  affair  justifies  a  well- 
founded  suspicion  that  Morgan  came  to  an  untimely  end." 

The  opinion  of  one  more  person,  himself  an  actor  in  a  sub- 
ordinate way  in  this  dark  drama,  will  be  quoted.  A  wealthy 
stage  proprietor  by  the  name  of  Ganson  was  indicted  for  being 
concerned  in  the  abduction  of  Morgan.  It  was  shown  that  one 
of  his  coaches  was  used  in  the  conveyance  of  Morgan  over  a  part 
of  the  route  traversed  by  his  captors.  The  driver  of  the  coach 
was  placed  upon  the  witness  stand. 

"Who  gave  you  the  waybill  that  night?"  asked  the  public 

"  I  don't  remember." 

"  Who  was  in  the  coach  when  you  started  from  Batavia  ?  " 

"  I  think  there  was  three  men ;  one  of  them  I  think  was  Mor- 

"  Who  shut  the  coach  door?  " 

"  I  can't  tell." 

"  Did  you  receive  directions  from  any  person?  " 

"  Yes  ;  somebody  told  me  to  drive  like  hell,  for  there  was  a  man 
inside  who  was  bound  for  that  place." 

"  Did  you  obey  orders  ?  " 

"  I  think  one  of  the  men  went  through,"  was  the  reply. 

What  goes  on  within  the  precincts  of  a  Masonic  lodge  is 
matter  of  concern  to  members  of  the  fraternity  only.  Having 
made  this  statement,  I  shall  contravene  it  by  saying  that  my 
Masonic  friends  (I  have  scores  of  them,  and  esteem  them  highly) 
go  through  performances  that  to  an  outsider  look  like  a  com- 
bination of  mummery,  superstition,  horseplay,  and  burlesque. 
But  this  opinion  is  based  upon  the  supposition  that  the  so-called 
mysteries  were  correctly  revealed  by  Morgan.  If  they  were  and 
are  true  in  every  detail,  I  see  no  reason  why  any  level-headed 
Mason  should  object  to  their  publication.  It  is  one  of  the  mar- 
vels of  the  19th  century  that  a  proposal  to  print  and  circu- 
late them  should  have  created  such  a  frenzy  of  opposition  in 
Masonic  circles,  and  led  to  such  high-handed  and  illegal  pro- 
ceedings as  were  taken  against  the  work  and  its  author.  No 
Mason  with  half  a  grain  of  sense  would  to-day  give  himself  the 
least  trouble  to  prevent  their  publication.  A  more  absolutely 
inconsequential  mess  of  rubbish  was  never  printed  and  bound. 


Any  person  who  should  commit  the  entire  book  to  memory,  and 
practice  every  word,  look,  nod,  grip,  motion,  and  genu- 
flection, until  he  had  reached  what  he  believed  to  be  complete 
mastery  of  every  detail,  and  should  by  such  means  gain  ad- 
mission to  a  lodge,  would  be  detected  and  exposed  before  he  had 
been  there  half  an  hour,  and  whatever  punishment  is  merited  by 
a  sneak  and  blackguard  ought  to  be  administered  to  him  on  the 
spot.  And  this  leads  me  to  say,  in  conclusion,  that  Morgan  and 
his  codajutor  in  the  publication  of  his  revelations  were  not  men 
of  high  tone  and  standing  in  the  community  where  they  lived,  and 
that  their  pamphlet,  published  for  pecuniary  gain,  was  the  work 
of  sneaks  and  perjurers,  who  were  hardly  entitled  to  sympathy. 
In  saying  this  it  is  not  meant  to  excuse  Masonic  violations  of  the 
law,  much  less  to  justify  Masons  in  taking  human  life.  But 
whatever  may  be  individual  opinion  concerning  his  fate,  it  is  only 
just  to  say  that  there  is  no  legal  proof  that  William  Morgan 
was  put  to  death  by  members  of  the  Masonic  fraternity. 



"  Knock,  knock,  knock:     Who's  there  ? 
i'  the  name  of  Belzebub?  " 

"  The  earth  hath  the  water  has, 
And  these  are  of  them." 

— Macbeth. 

A  NUMBER  of  new  faiths,  beliefs,  religions,  or  dis- 
coveries relating  to  the  spiritual  world  have  found  in 
the  Genesee  Country  a  home  and  origin,  if  not  a  per- 
manent abiding  place.  It  was  here  that  Jemima  Wil- 
kinson planted  her  colony  of  followers,  believing  herself  and 
them  to  be  so  far  removed  from  prying  neighbors  and  from  the 
temptations  abounding  in  the  haunts  of  men  that  they  could 
never  again  be  surrounded  by  them  —  an  error  in  itself  sufficient 
to  throw  discredit  upon  the  assumption  that  her  nature  was 
spiritual  and  the  future  to  her  an  open  book. 

Here,  too,  Joseph  Smith,  junior,  found,  or  pretended  to  have 
found,  the  golden  plates,  with  the  wonderful  hieroglyphics 
engraved  thereon,  from  which  was  translated  the  Mormon  Bible. 
Joseph  seems  to  have  been  the  corollary  of  Jemima  —  the  infer- 
ence derived  from  a  preceding  proposition.  He  lived  for  fifteen 
years  within  a  score  of  miles  from  her  settlement,  which  was  well 
known  to  all  the  country  around,  —  saw  her  surrounded  with 
all  the  comforts  of  life,  and  as  many  of  its  luxuries  as  were  cur- 
rent at  that  period;  the  mistress  of  thousands  of  broad  acres, 
with  houses,  barns,  horses,  carriages,  purple  and  fine  linen  — 
all  without  labor,  money,  or  price  —  the  free  gifts  of  her  devoted 
adherents; — is  it  any  wnoder,  then,  seeing  all  this,  that  Joseph, 
who  from  his  youth  up  had  been  miserably  poor  and  constitu- 
tionally averse  to  work,  should  have  concluded  that  the  business 
of  founding  a  new  faith  was  rather  a  good  one  (for  the  founder) 
and  one  in  which  he  would  at  once  engage?  He  had  the  requi- 
site capital  —  low  cunning  and  an  adamantine  front.  He  saw 
clearly  the  weak  point  in  Jemima's  creed  —  her  prohibition  of 
marriage  —  and  went  rather  to  the  other  extreme,  for  what  is 
the  good  of  a  religion  without  followers?       And  here,  too,  the 



youthful  daughters  of  a  country  blacksmith  originated  modern 

The  humble  abode  in  which  a  faith  numbering  more  than  two 
million  adherents  had  its  birth  is  located  on  the  farm  of  Artemas 
W.  Hyde,  Esquire,  about  two  and  a  half  miles  in  a  northeasterly 
direction  from  the  village  of  Newark  in  the  County  of  Wayne. 
Intended  for  the  occupancy  of  a  mechanic  or  farm  laborer,  it 
was  never  a  structure  of  much  pretension,  and  the  wear  and  tear 
of  nearly  three-quarters  of  a  century  has  added  nothing  to  its 
appearance.  A  renewal  of  the  siding  some  years  ago  and  a  coat 
of  pea-green  paint  have  given  it  rather  a  smart  exterior,  but 
inside  it  is  low-studded,  shabby,  and  tumble-down.  There  are 
three  rooms  on  the  ground  floor,  but  if  there  are  any  above  they 
must  be  directly  under  the  ridge-pole,  as  the  house  is  but  one 
story  in  height. 

The  faith,  belief,  doctrine,  or  whatever  other  name  may  be 
given  to  the  discovery  of  these  young  ladies,  is  too  nearly  con- 
temporaneous to  have  a  prominent  place  in  pioneer  history ; 
and  as  it  has  been  absolutely  repudiated  by  them,  and  the  means 
by  which  the  so-called  spiritual  manifestations  were  produced 
fully  and  publicly  exposed,  I  shall  attempt  only  an  outline  of  its 
origin  and  early  progress. 

In  December,  1847,  the  family  of  Mr.  John  D.  Fox  moved 
from  Rochester  into  the  little  tenement  which  has  been  described. 
It  consisted  at  the  time  of  the  father,  mother,  and  two  daughters 
named  Margaretta  and  Catharine,  aged  respectively  about  fif- 
teen and  twelve  years.  An  elder  sister,  Ann,  was  the  wife  of  Mr. 
Fish  of  Rochester,  and  a  son  David  lived  on  a  farm  near  the 
house  in  which  the  spirits  first  manifested  themselves  in  an 
auricular  way.  The  family  of  Mr.  Fox  moved  into  Mr.  Hyde's 
tenement,  as  has  been  stated,  in  December,  1847,  and,  at  Mr. 
Hyde's  earnest  request,  moved  out  in  May,  1848,  returning 
whence  they  came ;  therefore  the  thumping,  by  means  of  which 
communication  between  the  spiritual  and  material  worlds  was 
carried  on,  got  the  name  of  "  Rochester  Knockings."  These 
knockings  were  first  heard  one  evening  in  the  latter  part  of 
March,  1848.  After  the  Fox  family  had  retired  for  the  night, 
but  before  all  were  asleep,  a  noise  which  appeared  to  proceed 
from  the  bedroom  in  which  the  young  ladies  slept,  and  which 
sounded  as  though  some  one  was  knocking  lightly  on  the  floor, 
was   heard.     The   entire   household   got   up   and   searched  the 


premises  thoroughly,  but  could  discover  no  cause  for  the  sounds. 
It  was  said  that  a  perceptible  jar  was  felt  by  placing  the  hands 
on  bedposts  and  chairs  and  also  while  standing  on  the  floor. 
Nothing  strange,  so  far  as  the  jarring  is  concerned.  The  old 
house  was  so  shaky  that  the  movement  of  a  child  across  the  floor 
would  cause  it,  and  everything  standing  on  it,  to  vibrate.  The 
sounds  were  continued  as  long  as  anyone  was  awake,  or,  rather, 
as  long  as  the  young  ladies  were  awake,  for,  by  their  own  con- 
fession and  public  demonstration,  it  has  been  shown  that  they 
produced  the  raps  that  were  supposed  to  emanate  from  the  spirit 
world.  Next  evening  the  noises  were  heard  again,  and  on  the 
following  night  the  neighbors  were  called  in.  On  the  last  even- 
ing of  March,  1848,  after  Mr.  Hyde  had  retired  for  the  night,  a 
hurried  rap  on  his  door  summoned  him  from  his  slumbers.  A 
neighbor,  so  much  excited  as  to  be  hardly  intelligible,  informed 
him  that  a  murder  had  been  committed  in  the  little  tenement  of 
which  he  was  the  owner,  and  that  his  immediate  presence  there 
was  desired.  On  the  way  over,  Mr.  Hyde,  much  to  his  relief, 
learned  that  the  homicide  was  not  a  recent  one,  but  had  been  com- 
mitted some  years  before,  and  that  spirits  were  revealing  it  by 
means  of  raps  which  could  be  heard  distinctly.  Being  a  level- 
headed, shrewd,  well-educated,  and  wealthy  man,  he  at 
once  concluded  that  his  neighbor  had  been  sent  on 
a  fool's  errand,  and  has  never  changed  his  mind.  He 
has  often  said  that  if  he  had  next  day  built  a  high  fence  around 
his  tenant  house  and  charged  one  dollar  admission  to  the  premises 
he  would  probably  have  strangled  modern  spiritualism  in  its 

The  country  for  miles  around  was  in  a  state  of  feverish  excite- 
ment over  the  supernatural  revelations.  The  story  that  a  mur- 
der had  been  committed  flew  on  the  wings  of  the  wind  and  gath- 
ered detail  on  its  way.  People  were  all  the  more  ready  to  believe 
it,  because  the  ghostly  victim  revealed  from  the  spirit  world  the 

"  Deep  damnation  of  his  taking  off." 

Evidence  that  in  the  court  of  a  country  justice  would  not  have 
been  sufficient  to  convict  an  American  citizen  of  African  descent 
of  stealing  a  pullet  was  thought  by  an  excited  populace  to  be 
strong  as  proofs  from  Holy  Writ  that  some  one  had  done  foul 
murder.  The  residents  of  the  neighboring  villages  of  Newark, 
Palmyra,  and  Lyons  swarmed  upon  Mr.  Hyde's  premises.     The 


rural  population  of  two  counties  hitched  their  horses  along  his 
fences  on  each  Sabbath  day,  and  listened  with  open-mouthed  won- 
der to  the  revelations  said  to  have  been  made  by  the  spirit  of  the 
victim.  He  was  a  peddler.  Kis  name,  age,  and  birthplace  were 
learned  by  means  of  raps,  as  will  be  hereafter  explained.  In  the 
same  way  it  was  ascertained  that  he  had  been  married,  was  the 
father  of  five  children  and  had  been  murdered  by  a  former  resi- 
dent of  the  house  and  his  body  buried  in  the  cellar.  Exca- 
vations were  at  once  begun,  the  volunteer  grave-diggers  little 
doubting  that  the  gashed  and  gory  body  of  the  peddler  would 
soon  be  unearthed.  It  is  needless  to  say  that  no  sign  or  trace  of 
a  dead  body  was  found,  and  the  ghastly  farce  of  looking  for  one 
was  soon  discontinued.  When  it  became  evident  that  no  remains 
were  buried  in  the  cellar,  the  spirits  changed  their  tale  and  said 
the  bones  of  the  defunct  had  been  exhumed  by  the  murderer, 
placed  in  a  piece  of  old  stove  pipe  and  thrown  into  Mud  Creek, 
a  deep  and  sluggish  stream  not  far  from  the  house ;  but  a  thor- 
ough raking  of  the  creek  failed  to  bring  them  to  light.  At  this 
day  the  only  mystery  about  the  whole  business  is,  how  two  girls 
of  twelve  and  fifteen  could  at  that  period  of  their  lives  have  so 
effectually  humbugged  an  intelligent  community.  Annoyed  and 
incommoded  by  the  crowds  attracted  to  his  premises,  and  fully 
persuaded  of  the  fraudulent  nature  of  the  so-called  revelations, 
though  not  able  at  the  time  to  account  for  them,  Mr.  Hyde  be- 
sought his  tenants  to  find  other  quarters,  and  they  accordingly 
returned  to  Rochester.  As  it  is  not  my  intention  to  trace  the 
faith  which  the  Fox  young  ladies  founded  beyond  the  little  vil- 
lage of  Hydesville,  we  will  go  back  and  note  its  progress  up  to 
the  time  they  left  the  premises  where  it  originated.  It  is  not 
believed  by  those  acquainted  with  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Fox  that  they 
had  part  or  lot  in  originating  the  rappings,  or  knew  until  some 
time  afterward  that  their  daughters  had  the  power  of  producing 
them.  He  had  passed  middle  life,  was  a  blacksmith  by  trade,  and 
bore  the  reputation  of  being  an  honest,  industrious  mechanic. 
His  wife,  a  woman  of  ordinary  intelligence  and  blameless  life, 
had  never  been  noted  for  mental  vagaries  of  any  sort.  If  the 
daughters  were  prompted  at  all  it  must  have  been  by  their  elder 
sister,  Mrs.  Fish,  but  evidence  of  her  complicity  during  the  resi- 
dence of  the  family  in  Hydesville  is  wholly  wanting.  The  fol- 
lowing statement  by  Mrs.  Fox  was  made  soon  after  the  rappings 
were  first  heard,  and  seems  ingenuous  enough.    She  says,  in  part : 


"  On  Friday  night,  we  concluded  to  go  to  bed  early  and  not  let 
it  disturb  us ;  if  it  came,  we  thought  we  would  not  mind  it,  but 
try  and  get  a  good  night's  rest.  My  husband  was  here  on  all 
these  occasions,  heard  the  noise,  and  helped  search.  It  was  very 
early  when  we  went  to  bed  on  this  night ;  hardly  dark.  We  went 
to  bed  so  early,  because  we  had  been  broken  so  much  of  our  rest 
that  I  was  almost  sick. 

"  My  husband  had  not  gone  to  bed  when  we  first  heard  the 
noise  on  this  evening.  I  had  just  laid  down.  It  commenced 
as  usual.  I  knew  it  from  all  other  noises  I  had  ever  heard  in  the 
house.  The  girls,  who  slept  in  the  other  bed  in  the  room, 
heard  the  noise,  and  tried  to  make  a  similar  noise  by  snapping 
their  fingers.  The  youngest  girl  is  about  twelve  years  old ; 
she  is  the  one  who  made  her  hand  go.  As  fast  as  she  made  the 
noise  with  her  hands  or  fingers,  the  sound  was  followed  up  in  the 
room.  It  did  not  sound  any  different  at  that  time,  only  it  made 
the  same  number  of  noises  that  the  girl  did.  When  she  stopped, 
the  sound  itself  stopped  for  a  short  time. 

"  The  other  girl  who  is  in  her  fifteenth  year,  then  spoke  in 
sport,  and  said,  '  Now,  do  just  as  I  do.  Count  one,  two,  three 
four,'  etc.,  striking  one  hand  in  the  other  at  the  same  time.  The 
blows  which  she  made  were  repeated  as  before.  It  appeared  to 
answer  her  by  repeating  every  blow  that  she  made.  She  only 
did  so  once.  She  then  began  to  be  startled  and  then  I  spoke  and 
said  to  the  noise,  '  Count  ten,'  and  it  made  ten  strokes  or  noises. 
Then  I  asked  the  ages  of  my  different  children  successively,  and 
it  gave  a  number  of  raps,  corresponding  to  the  ages  of  my  chil- 

"  I  then  asked  if  it  was  a  human  being  that  was  making  the 
noise;  and  if  it  was,  to  manifest  it  by  the  same  noise.  There 
was  no  noise.  I  then  asked  if  it  was  a  spirit ;  and  if  it  was,  to 
manifest  it  by  two  sounds ;  I  heard  two  sounds  as  soon  as  the 
words  were  spoken.  I  then  asked,  if  it  was  an  injured  spirit, 
to  give  me  the  sound,  and  I  heard  the  rapping  distinctly.  I  then 
asked  if  it  was  injured  in  this  house;  and  it  manifested  it  by  the 
noise.  If  the  person  was  living  that  injured  it;  and  got  the 
same  answer.  I  then  ascertained  by  the  same  method  that  its 
remains  were  buried  under  the  dwelling,  and  how  old  it  was. 
When  I  asked  how  many  years  old  it  was ;  it  rapped  thirty-one 
times ;  that  it  was  a  male ;  that  it  had  left  a  family  of  five  chil- 
dren;   that  it  had  two  sons  and  three  daughters,  all  living.     I 


asked  if  it  left  a  wife ;  and  it  rapped.  If  its  wife  was  then  liv- 
ing; no  rapping.  If  she  was  dead;  and  the  rapping  was  dis- 
tinctly heard.     How  long  it  had  been  dead ;  and  it  rapped  twice." 

Mrs.  Fox  asked  if  the  noises  would  continue  if  she  called  in 
the  neighbors  that  they  might  hear  it.  There  was  rapping  the 
same  as  when  it  was  supposed  affirmative  answers  were  given. 
Mrs.  Redfield,  the  nearest  neighbor,  was  first  called.  The  chil- 
dren had  informed  her  previously,  that  strange  noises  were  heard 
in  the  house,  and  she  went,  thinking  to  have  some  sport  with  the 
family.  She  found  the  girls  very  much  agitated.  Mrs.  Fox 
said,  "  Mrs.  Redfield,  what  shall  we  do  ?  We  have  heard  the 
noise  for  some  time,  and  now  it  answers  all  our  questions,  and  we 
cannot  account  for  it." 

Mrs.  R.  heard  the  sounds,  and  commenced  asking  questions, 
which  were  answered  correctly,  greatly  to  her  astonishment. 
She  says  the  girls  continued  to  be  much  frightened,  and  she  told 
them  not  to  be  afraid;  if  it  was  a  revelation  from  the  spirit 
world,  it  was  not  to  injure  them.  One  of  the  girls  said  with 
much  feeling,  —  "  We  are  innocent ;  how  good  it  is  to  have  a 
clear  conscience !  " 

Messrs.  Redfield,  Duesler,  Hyde,  Jewell,  and  their  wives  were 
subsequently  called  during  the  same  evening.  They  asked  many 
questions,  and  received  answers.  Questions  relating  to  the  age, 
number  of  children,  etc.,  of  the  persons  present,  are  said  to 
have  been  answered  correctly.  Mr.  Fox  and  Mr.  Redfield  re- 
mained in  the  house  during  the  night.  Mrs.  Fox  and  her  daugh- 
ters spent  the  night  at  the  house  of  one  of  the  neighbors. 

The  following  is  a  portion  of  a  statement  made  by  a  neigh- 
bor who  attempted,  without  success,  to  unravel  the  mysteries  of 
the  Fox  dwelling,  and  unearth  the  murdered  peddler  : 

"  I  went  over  again  on  Sunday,  between  one  and  two  o'clock, 
P.  M.  I  went  into  the  cellar  with  several  others,  and  had  them 
all  leave  the  house  over  our  heads ;  and  then  I  asked,  if  there 
had  been  a  man  buried  in  that  cellar,  to  manifest  it  by  rapping 
or  any  other  noise  or  sign.  The  moment  I  asked  the  question, 
there  was  a  sound  like  the  falling  of  a  stick,  about  a  foot  long 
and  half  an  inch  through,  on  the  floor  in  the  bedroom  over  our 
heads.  It  did  not  seem  to  bound  at  all ;  there  was  but  one  sound. 
I  then  told  Stephen  Smith  to  go  right  up  and  examine  the  room, 
and  see  if  he  could  discover  the  cause  of  the  noise.     He  came 


back  and  said  he  could  discover  nothing,  —  that  there  was  no 
one  in  the  room,  or  in  that  part  of  the  house.  I  then  asked  two 
more  questions,  and  it  rapped  in  the  usual  way.  We  all  then 
went  upstairs,  and  made  a  thorough  search  around  the  rooms, 
but  could  find  nothing. 

"  I  then  got  a  knife  and  fork  and  tried  to  see  if  I  could  make 
the  same  noise  by  dropping  them,  but  I  could  not.  This  was  all 
I  heard  on  Sunday.  There  is  only  one  floor,  or  partition,  or 
thickness  between  the  bedroom  and  cellar  —  no  place  where  any- 
thing could  be  secreted  to  make  the  noise.  When  the  noise  was 
heard  in  the  bedroom,  I  could  feel  a  slight  tremulous  motion  or 

"  There  was  some  digging  in  the  cellar  on  Saturday  night. 
They  dug  until  they  came  to  water,  and  then  gave  it  up.  The 
question  had  been  previously  asked,  whether  it  was  right  that 
they  should  dig  on  that  night ;  and  there  was  no  rapping.  Then 
whether  it  was  wrong ;  and  the  rapping  was  heard.  Whether 
they  should  dig  on  Sunday ;  no  rapping.  On  Monday ;  and  the 
rapping  commenced  again.  However,  some  insisted  on  digging 
at  this  time,  and  dug  accordingly,  but  with  no  success. 

"  On  Monday  night  heard  this  noise  again,  and  asked  the 
same  questions  I  did  before,  and  got  the  same  answers.  This 
is  the  last  time  I  have  heard  the  rapping.  I  can  in  no  way  ac- 
count for  this  singular  noise,  which  I  and  others  have  heard.  It 
is  a  mystery  to  me,  which  I  am  wholly  unable  to  solve.  I  am  will- 
ing to  testify  under  oath  that  I  did  not  make  the  noises  or  rap- 
ping which  I  and  others  heard ;  that  I  do  not  know  of  any  person 
who  did  or  could  have  made  them ;  that  I  have  spent  considerable 
time  since  then,  in  order  to  satisfy  myself  as  to  the  cause  of  it, 
but  cannot  account  for  it  on  any  other  ground  than  that  it  is 
supernatural.  I  lived  in  the  same  house  about  seven  years  ago, 
and  at  that  time  never  heard  any  noises  of  the  kind  in  and  about 
the  premises.     *     *     * 

"  I  never  believed  in  haunted  houses,  or  heard  or  saw  any- 
thing but  what  I  could  account  for  before ;  but  this  I  cannot 
account  for. 

"  (Signed)  Wm.   Dueslek. 

"April  12,  1848." 

Before  the  removal  of  the  family  to  Rochester,  Mrs.  Fox  and 
her  daughters,  including  Mrs.  Fish,  had  established  a  code  of 


signals  with  the  spirits.  One  rap  meant  no ;  two,  yes ;  three  or 
four,  undecided;  and  five  in  quick  succession,  that  the  question 
could  not  be  answered  by  yes  or  no,  but  recourse  must  be  had  to 
the  alphabet.  The  manner  in  which  the  letters  were  used  may 
be  learned  from  the  following  brief  statement  signed  by  several 
members  of  the  family : 

"  During  the  first  inquiries  to  learn  the  name  of  the  person 
who  was  represented  as  the  injured  spirit,  it  was  asked  if  it  would 
rap  at  the  initials  of  his  name.  It  rapped  in  the  affirmative, 
and  on  calling  over  the  letters,  it  rapped  at  the  letters  C,  R ;  and 
at  a  subsequent  period,  David  Fox,  one  of  the  family,  spent 
several  hours  in  communication  with  it,  and  learned  the  whole 
name;  and  afterwards  Mrs.  A.  S.  Fish  learned  that  five  succes- 
sive raps  were  an  indication,  or  signal,  to  repeat  the  alphabet, 
when  questions  were  asked,  to  which  a  simple  negative  or  affirma- 
tive would  not  be  a  correct  reply  without  qualification. 

"  It  is  thus  that  directions  are  now  given  in  answer  to  ques- 
tions; and  often  it  voluntarily  calls  by  the  signal  for  the 
alphabet,  and  communicates  entire  sentences,  many  of  them  in- 
teresting, and  of  considerable  length. 

"  Mrs.  Ann  L.  Fish, 
"  Mrs.  Margaret  Fox, 
"  C.  R.  Brown, 
"  David  S.  Fox. 

"  Rochester,  March  6, 1850." 

As  will  be  seen  by  the  statements,  the  family  had  for  some 
time  been  residents  of  Rochester.  The  young  ladies  had  upon 
their  arrival  in  that  city  been  taken  in  charge  by  their  eldest 
sister,  Mrs.  Fish,  under  whose  chaperonage  spiritual  "  seances  '! 
began,  and  were  continued  until  more  ambitious  aspirants  for 
spiritual  honors  outbid  the  original  mediums  and  supplanted 
them  in  popular  favor.  The  Fox  sisters  stopped  at  rapping 
and  table  tipping,  the  public  appetite  for  which  was  soon  ap- 
peased. Then  came  LaRoy  Sunderland,  the  Eddy  Brothers, 
Foster,  Hume,  Cora  Hatch,  the  Davenport  Brothers,  and  last, 
but  by  no  means  least,  Madam  Dis  Debar.  Scattered  amongst 
these  greater  lights  was  a  crowd  of  mediums  and  clairvoyants 
who  exhibited  for  a  consideration  their  powers  in  dingy  and 
awe-inspiring  apartments  in  all  the  great  cities  of  the  country. 



The  spirits  no  longer  deigned  to  communicate  by  means  of 
vulgar  thumps,  but  betook  themselves  to  a  very  legible  kind  of 
writing,  to  painting  works  of  art,  to  interpreting  the  thoughts 
of  their  patrons,  to  viva  voce  colloquies,  in  which  the  tone  of 
voice  and  manner  of  speaking  were  a  curious  and  sometimes 
rather  startling  imitation  of  the  original  when  on  earth.  No 
one  well  acquainted  with  the  late  Mr.  Lawrence  Jerome  ever 
thought  him  a  man  who  could  be  easily  awed  or  humbugged,  but 
after  a  spiritual  interview  with  his  old  friend  Richard  Schell  he 
said  to  me,  "  It  was  Uncle  Dick's  voice  exactly  and  had  his  peculi- 
arities of  pronunciation  and  expression.  If  you  don't  want  to 
believe  in  this  thing,  don't  go  near  it." 

In  Professor  Sinnett's  work  on  Esoteric  Buddhism  an  attempt 
is  made  to  explain  the  phenomena  which  puzzled  Mr.  Jerome: 
Premising  that  the  Professor  is  a  believer  in  all  sorts  of  occult 
manifestations,  including  spiritual  mediumship,  I  quote :  "  It 
is  possible,  however,  for  yet  living  persons  to  have  visions  of 
Devachan,*  though  such  visions  are  rare,  and  only  one-sided, 
the  entities  in  Devachan  sighted  by  the  earthly  clairvoyant  being 
quite  unconscious  themselves  of  undergoing  such  observation. 
The  spirit  of  the  clairvoyant  ascends  into  the  condition  of  De- 
vachan in  such  rare  visions,  and  thus  becomes  subject  to  the 
vivid  delusions  of  that  existence.  It  is  under  the  impression 
that  the  spirits,  with  which  it  is  in  Devachan  bonds  of  sympathy, 
have  come  down  to  visit  earth  and  itself,  while  the  converse  oper- 
ation has  really  taken  place.  The  clairvoyant's  spirit  has  been 
raised  toward  those  in  Devachan.  Thus  many  of  the  subjective 
spiritual  communications  —  most  of  them  when  the  sensitives 
are  pure  minded  —  are  real,  though  it  is  most  difficult  for  the 
uninitiated  medium  to  fix  in  his  mind  the  true  and  correct  pic- 
tures of  what  he  sees  and  hears.  In  the  same  way  some  of  the 
phenomena  called  psychography  —  though  more  rarely  —  are 
also  real.  The  spirit  of  the  sensitive,  getting  odylized,  so  to 
say,  by  the  aura  of  the  spirit  in  the  Devachan,  becomes  for  a 
few  minutes  that  departed  personality,  and  writes  in  the  hand- 
writing of  the  latter,  in  his  language  and  in  his  thoughts,  as 
they  were  during  his  lifetime.  The  two  spirits  become  blended 
in  one,  and  the  preponderance  of  one  over  the  other  during  such 
phenomena  determines  the  preponderance  of  personality  in  the 
characteristics  exhibited.     Thus,  it  may  be  incidentally  observed, 

*  He  defines  Devachan  as  a  "  state  or  condition — not  a  locality." 



what  is  called  rapport,  is,  in  plain  fact,  an  identity  of  molecu- 
lar vibration  between  the  astral  part  of  the  incarnate  medium  and 
the  astral  part  of  the  disincarnate  personality." 

There  is  much  more  of  the  same  sort,  though  by  no  means  so 
clear  as  what  has  been  quoted. 

"He  who  understands  it  would  be  able 
To  add  a  story  to  the  Tower  of  Babel." 

One  of  the  first  attempts  by  scientific  men  to  account  for  the 
rappings  was  made  during  a  visit  of  the  Fox  sisters  to  Buffalo 
by  Doctors  Austin  Flint,  Charles  A.  Lee,  and  C.  B.  Coventry  of 
the  University  of  that  city.  These  gentlemen  being,  of  course, 
aware  of  the  fact  well  known  to  all  surgeons,  that  dislocated  bones 
return  to  their  place  with  an  audible  snap,  conducted  their  in- 
vestigations with  a  view  to  ascertaining  whether  the  sisters 
produced  the  sounds  heard,  by  means  of  their  toe,  ankle,  or  knee 
joints,  and  became  thoroughly  convinced  that  they  did  so.  The 
result  of  a  number  of  examinations  of  Mrs.  Fish  and  her  sister 
Margaretta,  was  published  in  the  Buffalo  Medical  Journal, 
March,  1851.  In  it  the  professional  gentlemen  before  named  say: 
"  Having  traced  the  knockings  to  their  source,  explained  the 
mechanism  of  their  production,  and  thus  divested  them  of  their 
supernatural  character,  and  of  all  mystery,  we  turn  to  another 
aspect  presented  by  the  field  of  inquiry,"  et  cetera.  The  exposures 
made  by  the  Fox  sisters  at  the  Academy  of  Music  in  New  York, 
in  1888,  fully  demonstrated  that  Messrs.  Flint,  Lee,  and  Coven- 
try made  a  correct  diagnosis  thirty-seven  years  before.  In  a 
personal  letter  to  the  New  York  Tribune,  dated  February  28, 
1851,  Doctor  Charles  A.  Lee,  one  of  the  three  medical  gentlemen 
named,  gives  a  full  account  of  a  private  "  seance  "  with  Mrs.  Fish 
and  Miss  Fox,  at  which  a  few  friends  of  both  parties  were  pres- 
ent, the  object  of  which  was  to  show  on  the  part  of  the  ladies 
that  they  had  no  agency  in  producing  the  raps,  and  on  the  part 
of  the  doctor  that  they  had.  The  result  showed  most  conclu- 
sively that  when  proper  precautions  were  taken  to  prevent  the 
ladies  from  snapping  their  joints,  no  sounds  were  heard,  thereby 
establishing  the  fact  that  the  rappings  were  physical  and  not 
spiritual.  Unrestrained,  the  ladies  produced  the  sounds  at  will. 
A  writer  in  the  New  York  Express,  over  the  signature  of  Shad- 
rack  Barnes,  exposed  the  science  of  toeology,  and  in  private 
seances   demonstrated   his   ability  to   rap  loudly,   and  though 


all  were  looking  at  his  feet  no  motion  of  them  could  be  dis- 

But  this  did  not  stop  the  progress  of  the  Fox  girls.  They 
visited  nearly  every  large  town  and  city  in  the  Union,  holding 
crowded  seances  at  one  dollar  per  head  admission,  and  had 
they  not  been  superseded  by  more  inventive  and  expert  per- 
formers would  doubtless  have  amassed  considerable  money. 
Exposure,  however,  went  hand  in  hand  with  the  new  schemes 
brought  forward  to  astonish  and  awe  the  credulous,  and  draw 
money  from  the  curious.  Examination  showed  the  Eddy 
Brothers  to  be  impostors,  whose  house  in  Vermont  was  strung  with 
wires  by  means  of  which  their  wonders  were  performed.  These 
wires  were  concealed  between  the  sheathing  and  plastering.  Any 
of  the  skillful  prestidigitators  now  before  the  public  can  outdo 
the  Davenport  Brothers  at  their  own  mysterious  cabinet  trick, 
and  can  produce  spiritual  writing  or  painting  equal  to  that  of 
Foster  or  Madam  Dis  Debar. 

Although  an  inscription  over  the  door  of  the  little  house  in 
Wayne  County  states  that  spiritualism  originated  there,  the 
announcement  is  hardly  correct.  The  idea  of  spiritualistic  com- 
munication is  not  modem.  Swift  satirized  it  nearly  two  cen- 
turies ago.  In  his  voj'age  to  Glubbdubdrib,  that  veracious 
traveler,  Lemuel  Gulliver,  tells  us  that  he  found  the  island  in- 
habited by  spirits  —  its  name  signifying  the  land  of  sorcerers 
and  magicians.  He  says :  "  I  soon  grew  so  familiarized  to  the 
sight  of  spirits  that  after  the  third  or  fourth  time  they  gave  me 
no  emotion  at  all,  or,  if  I  had  any  apprehensions  left,  my  curi- 
osity prevailed  over  them.  For  his  Highness  the  Governor 
ordered  me  to  call  up  (were  they  all  below?)  whatever  persons 
I  would  choose  to  name  from  the  beginning  of  the  world  up  to 
the  present  time,  and  command  them  to  answer  any  questions 
I  should  think  fit  to  ask.  I  accordingly  demanded  Alexander 
the  Great,  who  assured  me  that  he  was  not  poisoned,  but  died  of 
a  bad  fever  by  excessive  drinking.  I  next  called  up  Hannibal 
who  told  me  he  had  never  a  drop  of  vinegar  in  his  camp.  Caesar, 
Brutus,  and  Pompey  were  next  brought  forward.  I  found  the 
first  two  in  very  good  accord;  Caesar  freely  confessing  that  the 
greatest  actions  of  his  life  were  not  equal  by  many  degrees  to  the 
glory  of  taking  it  away."  Socrates,  Epaminondas,  Cato,  Homer, 
and  Aristotle  were  successively  interviewed,  and  furnished  shafts 
for  some  of  Swift's  keenest  satire.     He  traced  the  ancestry  of 


great  families,  showing  their  mental,  moral,  and  physical  de- 
terioration, and  says :  "  Neither  could  I  wonder  at  all  this, 
when  I  saw  such  an  interruption  of  lineages  by  pages,  lackeys, 
coachmen,  valets,  gamesters,  players,  captains,  and  pickpockets." 
Thus  it  will  be  seen  that  the  idea  of  communication  with  those 
who  have  gone  before  is  not  new.  It  existed  in  Swift's  mind, 
and  has  never  had  any  other  existence  with  him  or  his  successors. 
But  while  with  Swift  it  was  a  figment  of  imagination  and  a  vehicle 
for  satire,  it  has  appealed  to  many  acute  intellects  with  all  the 
power  of  faith  supported  by  the  sanctions  of  reason.  Men  of 
cultivated  minds  and  strong  will  power  have  in  all  ages  been 
carried  away  by  spiritualism  or  its  equivalent  under  some  other 
designation.  Keen  intellects  are  quite  as  ready  as  dull  ones  to 
attribute  to  supernatural  agencies  those  things  which  they  are 
unable  to  comprehend,  and  men  whose  incredulity  in  regard  to 
matters  of  fact  outside  of  their  observation  and  experience 
amounts  almost  to  a  disease  are  ready  enough  to  believe  in  spirits, 
ghosts,  vampires,  and  other  "  insubstantial  pageants."  Doctor 
Samuel  Johnson  may  be  quoted  as  a  conspicuous  example  of  this 
class.  He  knew  very  little  of  the  world  outside  of  London,  and 
beyond  the  circle  of  his  daily  ramble  from  the  Rainbow  Tavern, 
Fleet  Street,  to  Charing  Cross,  he  knew  very  little  of  that. 
Macaulay  says  that  "  he  talked  of  remote  countries  and  past 
times  with  wild  and  ignorant  presumption,  and  could  discern 
clearly  enough  the  folly  and  meanness  of  all  bigotry  ex- 
cept his  own."  And,  having  seen  nothing  of  mankind  and  of 
the  world,  he  believed  nothing  he  had  not  seen.  He  browbeat 
into  silence  a  gentleman  who  was  giving  a  truthful  account  of 
hurricanes  in  the  West  Indies,  and  almost  gave  the  lie  direct  to 
a  modest  Quaker  who  told  him  that  red-hot  balls  were  fired  at  the 
siege  of  Gibraltar.  "  Never  tell  that  story  again,"  said  the 
bumptious  old  Doctor,  "  you  cannot  think  how  poor  a  figure  you 
make,  relating  anything  so  improbable."  Yet  he  believed  in 
ghosts  —  if  located  in  London  —  and  went  to  hunt  one  in  Cock 
Lane.  One  whole  compartment  of  Sir  Walter  Scott's  library 
at  Abbotsford  was  full  of  volumes  having  reference  to  the  ghosts, 
spirits,  witches,  and  other  supernatural  agencies  with  which  his 
poetry  and  romance  abound.  And  if  these  distinguished  men 
had  lived  in  Rochester  or  New  York  in  the  middle  of  the  nine- 
teenth century  it  is  highly  probable  that  Judge  Edmonds,  Louis 
Napoleon,  Commodore  Vanderbilt,  and  Luther  R.  Marsh  would 


not  have  been  most  conspicuous  among  the  believers  in  spiritual- 
ism. For  there  is  no  doubt  that  faith  in  the  unseen,  unknown, 
and  unknowable  is  one  of  the  strongest  elements  of  man's  nature, 
whether  he  be  prince  or  peasant,  learned  or  unlettered ;  for  such 
faith  is  the  foundation  upon  which  all  creeds  from  Bramah  and 
Buddha  to  Joanna  Southcote  and  Joe  Smith  have  been  built. 
Men  will  admit  that  they  may  be  mistaken  regarding  occurrences 
which  took  place  yesterday  before  their  very  eyes,  but  faith 
implies  something  beyond  the  world  of  fact  and  demonstration, 
something  that  can  neither  be  proved  or  disproved,  and  there- 
fore they  cling  to  it  with  a  firmness  which  the  axe  and  the  fagot 
have  no  power  to  shake.  The  Mormon  believes  that  Joseph  Smith 
had  direct  revelations  from  the  Most  High :  It  is  impossible 
to  prove  that  he  did  not.  Men  of  intelligence  and  cultivated 
minds  bought  Joanna's  "  Seals,"  believing  them  to  possess  a 
mysterious  power  for  good  in  the  affairs  of  this  life  and  of  the 
life  to  come.  The  Fox  sisters  claimed  communication  with  the 
spirit  world,  and  the  falsity  of  this  claim  was  never  quite  satis- 
factorily established  until  they  themselves  did  it.  Even  their 
confession  has  not  shaken  the  faith  of  one  in  a  hundred  of  the 
believers  in  spiritualism.  Although  they  originated  the  latter- 
day  manifestations,  they  are  regarded  as  apostates,  whose  as- 
sertions were  good  enough  to  found  a  faith  but  are  not  good 
enough  to  overthrow  it.  And  here  the  question  naturally  pro- 
pounds itself:  Did  the  Fox  sisters  found  a  faith?  Is  spiritual- 
ism entitled  to  be  called  a  religious  belief?  An  article  in  the 
Baptist  Quarterly  for  April,  1888,  by  the  Rev.  Stanley  McKay, 
of  Canandaigua,  giving  a  sketch  of  the  origin  of  Mormonism 
and  Spiritualism  styles  them  "  Two  American  Religions."  So 
far  as  Mormonism  is  concerned  it  is  doubtless  entitled  to  the 
appellation.  It  has  a  church  polity  and  government,  a  doc- 
trine and  covenants ;  has  built  houses  and  temples  of  worship, 
and  maintained  in  them  all  customary  religious  forms  and  ob- 
servances. Whatever  may  be  its  future,  it  has  for  nearly  sixty 
years  been  an  aggressive,  concentrative,  and  defiant  faith. 
Spiritualism  has  accomplished  none  of  these  tilings.  It  is  dif- 
fusive, and  is  scattered  over  the  earth,  each  one  of  its  adherents 
a  law  unto  himself  or  herself.  At  one  period  the  believers  in 
spiritualism  hired  a  hall  and  listened  on  the  Sabbath  to  the  mild 
rhapsodies  of  Cora  Hatch,  or  the  transcendental  rubbish  of  a 
long-haired  advocate  of  the  other  sex,  but  even  this  is  no  longer 


the  vogue.  Without  local  habitation,  creed,  or  doctrine,  spiritu- 
alism drifts  hither  and  thither  upon  the  shifting  waves  of  specu- 
lation, each  individual  believing  and  teaching  whatever  at  the 
moment  is  uppermost  in  his  own  disordered  mind.  It  has  formu- 
lated no  dogmas,  and  fulminated  no  anathemas.  It  does  not 
undertake  to  bind  the  consciences  or  direct  the  footsteps  of  its 
followers.  Agnosticism  and  infidelity  are  no  bar  to  its  fold, 
which  seems  to  be  the  natural  refuge  of  free  thinking.  The  Fox 
sisters  make  a  public  exposition  of  the  humbug  of  the  knockings 
and  the  world  looks  on  and  jeers.  But  if  Joseph  Smith,  Junior, 
were  alive  to-day,  as  he  might  easily  be,  and  should  make  a  clear 
exposure  of  the  frauds  upon  which  the  Mormon  creed  is  based, 
his  life  would  not  be  worth  eight-and-forty  hours'  purchase. 
The  Danites,  the  Destroying  Angels,  and  the  Avengers  of  Blood, 
tolerate  no  apostasy,  high  or  low.  Good  or  bad,  the  doctrine 
taught  in  the  church  founded  by  Smith,  and  strengthened  and 
broadened  by  the  power  and  ability  of  Brigham  Young,  may 
fairly  be  called  an  American  religion ;  but  the  slack-twisted, 
scatter-brained  theories  of  individual  spiritualists  are  entitled 
to  no  such  distinction.  But  by  whatever  names  the  two  systems 
may  be  known,  it  is  evident  that  their  decay  is  rapidly  progress- 
ing, and  within  a  near  period  they  seem  destined  to  a  common 
oblivion.  The  gentile  rules  in  Salt  Lake  City.  The  head  of 
the  church  proclaimed  not  long  ago  that  there  were  to  be  no  more 
revelations,  notwithstanding  which  a  recent  interview  between 
the  Most  High  and  Elder  Woodruff  has  resulted  in  an  announce- 
ment to  the  faithful  that  they  must  henceforward  obey  the  laws 
of  the  land  rather  than  the  laws  of  the  hierarchy.  This  strangles 
the  other  twin  relic  —  polygamy. 

Spiritualism  culminated  within  fifteen  years  after  the  Fox 
sisters  reproduced  it.  It  probably  reached  its  height  in  the 
decade  following  its  new  birth.  In  the  period  from  1850  to  1860 
it  had  a  startling  growth.  Every  neighborhood  had  its  medi- 
ums, and  half  the  families  in  the  land  essayed  table-tipping,  if 
nothing  beyond.  In  the  Kremlin,  the  Tuilleries,  and  Bucking- 
ham Palace  there  were  believers  if  not  experts.  Residents 
in  the  gilded  homes  of  New  York,  Boston,  and  Philadelphia,  and 
in  the  bark  cabins  located  in  the  gulches  and  canyons  of  Cali- 
fornia alike  essayed  to  get  a  peep  behind  the  veil.  Divinity, 
law,  medicine,  and  literature  furnished  recruits  —  bright  and 
shining  ones  —  to  the  spiritualistic  ranks.     Louis  Napoleon  and 


Mr.  Kume  were  on  a  most  intimate  footing.  It  is  hard  to  decide 
even  now  which  was  the  greater  juggler. 

Perhaps  no  better  illustration  of  the  spread  of  spiritualism 
can  be  given  than  the  following  from  Hawthorne's  Italian  Note 
Book,  under  date  Florence,  June  9,  1858.  He  was  visiting  the 
Brownings,  and  says :  "  There  was  no  very  noteworthy  conver- 
sation ;  the  most  interesting  topic  being  that  disagreeable  and 
now  wearisome  one  of  spiritual  communications,  as  regards  which 
Mrs.  Browning  is  a  believer  and  her  husband  an  infidel.  Brown- 
ing and  his  wife  had  both  been  present  at  a  spiritual  session  held 
by  Mr.  Hume  and  had  seen  and  felt  the  unearthly  hands,  one  of 
which  had  placed  a  laurel  wreath  on  Mrs.  Browning's  head. 
Browning,  however,  avowed  his  belief  that  these  hands  were 
affixed  to  the  feet  of  Mr.  Hume  who  lay  extended  in  his  chair 
with  his  legs  stretched  far  under  the  table.  The  marvelousness 
of  the  fact  melted  strangely  away  in  Browning's  hearty  gripe, 
and  at  the  sharp  touch  of  his  logic ;  while  his  wife  ever  and  anon 
put  in  a  litle  word  of  gentle  expostulation."  It  is  easy  to  par- 
don in  Mrs.  Browning  the  vanity  which  was  ready  to  defend 
the  hand  which  had  placed  a  laurel  wreath  upon  her  brow. 

The  sculptor  Powers  and  his  wife  were  firm  believers  in  the 
marvels  of  Mr.  Hume,  although  the  latter  was  unquestionably 
a  knave.  But  he  and  his  ilk  are  no  longer  permitted  to  rob  the 
credulous  with  impunity  as  Madam  Dis  Debar  has  recently  dis- 

The  offspring  of  falsehood  and  deceit,  Mormonism  and  Spirit- 
ualism, were  born  in  the  same  neighborhood,  though  a  period  of 
twenty  years  separates  their  natal  days.  It  is  possible  that 
some  individual  life  which  antedates  theirs  will  see  them  pass 
away  as  active  and  aggressive  forces,  and  become  a  byword  and 
a  memory  in  the  land  of  their  origin. 

The  story  of  the  Cock  Lane  Ghost  bears  such  a  striking  re- 
semblance to  the  early  history  of  spiritualism  as  herein  related, 
that  I  give  it  at  length,  as  told  in  a  work  entitled  Memoirs  of 
Extraordinary  Delusions,  by  Charles  Mackay : 

"  At  the  commencement  of  the  year  1760,  there  resided  in 
Cock  Lane,  near  West  Smithfield,  in  the  house  of  one  Parsons, 
the  parish  clerk  of  St.  Sepulchre's,  a  stockbroker,  named  Kent. 
The  wife  of  this  gentleman  had  died  in  childbed  during  the 
previous  year,  and  his  sister-in-law,  Miss  Fanny,  had  arrived 
from  Norfolk  to  keep  his  house  for  him.     They  soon  conceived 


a  mutual  affection,  and  each  of  them  made  a  will  in  the  other's 
favor.  They  lived  some  months  in  the  house  of  Parsons,  who, 
being  a  needy  man,  borrowed  money  of  his  lodger.  Some  dif- 
ference arose  betwixt  them,  and  Mr.  Kent  left  the  house  and 
instituted  legal  proceedings  against  the  parish  clerk  for  the  re- 
covery of  his  money. 

"  While  this  matter  was  yet  pending,  Miss  Fanny  was  suddenly 
taken  ill  of  the  smallpox ;  and,  notwithstanding  every  care  and 
attention,  she  died  in  a  few  days,  and  was  buried  in  a  vault  under 
Clerkenwell  church.  Parsons  now  began  to  hint  that  the  poor 
lady  had  come  unfairly  by  her  death,  and  that  Mr.  Kent  was  ac- 
cessory to  it,  from  his  too  great  eagerness  to  enter  into  possession 
of  the  property  she  had  bequeathed  to  him.  Nothing  further 
was  said  for  nearly  two  years ;  but  it  would  appear  that  Parsons 
was  of  so  revengeful  a  character,  that  he  had  never  forgotten  or 
forgiven  his  differences  with  Mr.  Kent  and  the  indignity  of 
having  been  sued  for  the  borrowed  money.  The  strong  passions 
of  pride  and  avarice  were  silently  at  work  during  all  that  inter- 
val, hatching  schemes  of  revenge,  but  dismissing  them  one  after 
the  other  as  impracticable,  until,  at  last,  a  notable  one  suggested 
itself.  About  the  beginning  of  the  year  1762,  the  alarm  was 
spread  over  all  the  neighborhood  of  Cock  Lane  that  the  house 
of  Parsons  was  haunted  by  the  ghost  of  poor  Fanny,  and  that 
the  daughter  of  Parsons,  a  girl  about  twelve  years  of  age,  had 
several  times  seen  and  conversed  with  the  spirit,  who  had  more- 
over, informed  her,  that  she  had  not  died  with  the  smallpox,  as 
was  currently  reported,  but  of  poison  administered  by  Mr. 
Kent.  Parsons,  who  originated,  took  good  care  to  countenance 
these  reports ;  and,  in  answer  to  numerous  inquiries,  said  his 
house  was  every  night,  and  had  been  for  two  years,  in  fact,  ever 
since  the  death  of  Fanny,  troubled  by  a  loud  knocking  at  the 
doors  and  in  the  walls.  Having  thus  prepared  the  ignorant 
and  credulous  neighbors  to  believe  or  exaggerate  for  themselves 
what  he  had  told  them,  he  sent  for  a  gentleman  in  a  higher  class 
of  life  to  come  and  witness  these  extraordinary  occurrences. 
The  gentleman  came  accordingly,  and  found  the  daughter  of 
Parsons,  to  whom  the  spirit  alone  appeared,  and  whom  alone  it 
answered,  in  bed,  trembling  violently,  having  just  seen  the  ghost, 
and  been  again  informed  that  she  had  died  from  poison.  A  loud 
knocking  was  also  heard  from  every  part  of  the  chamber,  which 
so  mystified  the  not  very  clear  understanding  of  the  visitor,  that 


he  departed,  afraid  to  doubt  and  ashamed  to  believe,  but  with  a 
promise  to  bring  the  clergyman  of  the  parish  and  several  other 
gentlemen  on  the  following  day  to  report  upon  the  mystery. 

"  On  the  following  night  he  returned,  bringing  with  him  three 
clergymen  and  about  twenty  other  persons,  including  two 
negroes,  when,  upon  a  consultation  with  Parsons,  they  resolved 
to  sit  up  the  whole  night  and  await  the  ghost's  arrival.  It  was 
then  explained  by  Parsons,  that  although  the  ghost  would  never 
render  itself  visible  to  anybody  but  his  daughter,  it  had  no  ob- 
jections to  answer  the  questions  that  might  be  put  to  it  by  any 
person  present,  and  that  it  expressed  an  affirmation  by  one  knock, 
a  negative  by  two,  and  its  displeasure  by  a  kind  of  scratching. 
The  child  was  then  put  into  bed  along  with  her  sister,  and  the 
clergymen  examined  the  bed  and  bedclothes,  to  satisfy  themselves 
that  no  trick  was  played,  by  knocking  upon  any  substance  con- 
cealed among  the  clothes.  As  on  the  previous  night,  the  bed  was 
observed  to  shake  violently. 

"After  some  hours,  during  which  they  all  waited  with  ex- 
emplary patience,  the  mysterious  knocking  was  heard  in  the 
wall,  and  the  child  declared  she  saw  the  ghost  of  poor  Fanny. 
The  following  questions  were  then  gravely  put  by  the  clergymen, 
through  the  medium  of  one  Mary  Frazer,  the  servant  of  Parsons, 
and  to  whom  it  was  said  the  deceased  lady  had  been  much  at- 
tached. The  answers  were  in  the  usual  fashion,  by  a  knock  or 
knocks : — 

"  '  Do  you  make  this  disturbance  on  account  of  the  ill  usage 
you  received  from  Mr.  Kent?  ' — 'Yes.' 

"'Were  you  brought  to  an  untimely  end  by  poison?' 

''How  was  the  poison  administered,  in  beer  or  purl?' — 
'  In  purl.' 

"'How  long  was  that  before  your  death?' — 'About  three 

Can  your  former  servant,  Carrots,  give  any  informantion 
about  the  poison  ?  ' — '  Yes.' 

"  '  Are  you  Kent's  wife's  sister?  '  —  'Yes.' 

"  '  Were  you  married  to  Kent  after  your  sister's  death?  '  — 

a  . 

Was  anybody  else,  besides  Kent,  concerned  in  your  mur- 
der? '  — '  No.' 

"  '  Can  you,  if  you  like,  appear  visibly  to  anyone?  '  — '  Yes.' 


a  i 

Will  you  do  so? '  —  'Yes.' 

"  '  Can  you  come  out  of  this  house?  '  —  'Yes.' 

"  '  Is  it  your  intention  to  follow  this  child  about  everywhere  ?  ' 
—  'Yes.'  ' 

"  Are    you    pleased    in    being    asked    these    questions  ? '  — 
*  Yes.' 

"  '  Does  it  ease  your  troubled  soul?  '  —  '  Yes.' 

[Here  there  was  heard  a  mysterious  noise,  which  some  wise- 
acre present  compared  to  the  fluttering  of  wings.] 

"  '  How  long  before  your  death  did  you  tell  your  servant, 
Carrots,  that  you  was  poisoned?  —  An  hour?  '  —  '  Yes.' 

[Carrots,  who  was  present,  was  appealed  to;  but  she  stated 
positively  that  such  was  not  the  fact,  as  the  deceased  was  quite 
speechless  an  hour  before  her  death.  This  shook  the  faith  of 
some  of  the  spectators,  but  the  examination  was  allowed  to  con- 

"  '  How  long  did  Carrots  live  with  you  ?  '  —  '  Three  or  four 

[Carrots  was  again  appealed  to,  and  said  this  was  the  case.] 

"  '  If  Mr.  Kent  is  arrested  for  this  murder,  will  he  confess  ? ' 
— '  Yes.' 

"  '  Would  your  soul  be  at  rest  if  he  were  hanged  for  it  ?  '  — 
' Yes.' 

"  '  Will  he  be  hanged  for  it?  '  —  '  Yes.' 

"  '  How  long  a  time  first  ?  '  —  '  Three  years.' 

" '  How  many  clergymen  are  there  in  this  room  ? '  — 
'  Three.' 

"  '  How  many  negroes  ?  '  —  '  Two.' 

"  '  Is  this  watch  (held  up  by  one  of  the  clergymen)  white? ' 
— '  No.' 

"'Is  it  yellow?'  — 'No.' 

"'Is  it  blue? '  —  'No.' 

"'Is  it  black? '  —  'Yes.' 

[The  watch  was  in  a  black  shagreen  case.] 

"  '  At  what  time  this  morning  will  you  take  your  departure  ?  ' 

"  The  answer  to  this  question  was  four  knocks,  very  distinctly 
heard  by  every  person  present ;  and  accordingly,  at  four  o'clock 
precisely,  the  ghost  took  its  departure  to  the  Wheatsheaf  public 
house,  close  by,  where  it  frightened  mine  host  and  his  lady  almost 
out  of  their  wits  by  knocking  in  the  ceiling  right  above  their 


"  The  rumor  of  these  occurrences  very  soon  spread  over  Lon- 
don, and  every  day  Cock  Lane  was  rendered  impassable  by  the 
crowd  of  people  who  assembled  around  the  house  of  the  parish 
clerk,  in  expectation  of  either  seeing  the  ghost,  or  of  hearing 
the  mysterious  knocks.  It  was  at  last  found  necessary,  so  clam- 
orous were  they  for  admission  within  the  haunted  precinct,  to 
admit  those  only  who  would  pay  a  certain  fee,  an  arrangement 
which  was  very  convenient  to  the  needy  and  money-loving  Mr. 
Parsons.  Indeed,  things  had  taken  a  turn  greatly  to  his  satis- 
faction ;  he  not  only  had  his  revenge,  but  he  made  a  profit  out  of 
it.  The  ghost,  in  consequence,  played  its  antics  every  night,  to 
the  great  amusement  of  many  hundred  people  and  the  great  per- 
plexity of  a  still  greater  number. 

"  Unhappily,  however,  for  the  parish  clerk,  the  ghost  was  in- 
duced to  make  some  promises  which  were  the  means  of  utterly 
destroying  its  reputation.  It  promised,  in  answer  to  the  ques- 
tions of  the  Reverend  Mr.  Aldritch  of  Clerkenwell,  that  it  would 
not  only  follow  the  little  Miss  Parsons  wherever  she  went,  but 
would  also  attend  him,  or  any  other  gentleman,  into  the  vault 
under  St.  John's  Church,  where  the  body  of  the  murdered  woman 
was  deposited,  and  would  there  give  notice  of  its  presence  by  a 
distinct  knock  upon  the  coffin.  As  a  preliminary,  the  girl  was 
conveyed  to  the  church,  where  a  large  party  of  ladies  and 
gentlemen,  eminent  for  their  acquirements,  their  rank,  or  their 
wealth,  had  assembled.  About  ten  o'clock  on  the  night  of  the  first 
of  February,  the  girl  having  been  brought  from  Cock  Lane  in  a 
coach,  was  put  to  bed  by  several  ladies  in  the  house  of  Mr. 
Aldritch,  a  strict  examination  having  been  previously  made  that 
nothing  was  hidden  in  the  bedclothes.  While  the  gentlemen,  in 
an  adjoining  chamber,  were  deliberating  whether  they  should 
proceed  in  a  body  to  the  vault,  they  were  summoned  into  the 
bedroom  by  the  ladies,  who  affirmed,  in  great  alarm  that  the 
ghost  had  come,  and  that  they  heard  knocks  and  scratches.  The 
gentlemen  entered  accordingly,  with  a  determination  to  suffer 
no  deception.  The  little  girl,  on  being  asked  whether  she  saw 
the  ghost,  replied,  '  No ;  but  she  felt  it  on  her  back  like  a  mouse.' 
She  was  then  required  to  put  her  hands  out  of  the  bed,  and  they 
being  held  by  some  of  the  ladies,  the  spirit  was  summoned  in  the 
usual  manner  to  answer,  if  it  were  in  the  room.  The  question 
was  several  times  put  with  solemnity ;  but  the  customary  knock 
was  not  heard  in  reply  in  the  walls,  neither  was  there  any  scratch- 


ing.  The  ghost  was  then  asked  to  render  itself  visible,  but  it 
did  not  choose  to  grant  the  request.  It  was  next  solicited  to 
give  some  token  of  any  sort,  or  by  touching  the  hand  or  cheek  of 
any  lady  or  gentleman  in  the  room ;  but  even  with  this  request  the 
ghost  would  not  comply. 

"  There  was  now  a  considerable  pause,  and  one  of  the  clergy- 
men went  down  stairs  to  interrogate  the  father  of  the  girl,  who 
was  waiting  the  result  of  the  experiment.  He  positively  denied 
that  there  was  any  deception,  and  even  went  so  far  as  to  say  that 
he  himself,  upon  one  occasion,  had  seen  and  conversed  with  the 
awful  ghost.  This  having  been  communicated  to  the  company, 
it  was  unanimously  resolved  to  give  the  ghost  another  trial ;  and 
the  clergyman  called  out  in  a  loud  voice  to  the  supposed  spirit 
that  the  gentleman  to  whom  it  had  promised  to  appear  in  the 
vault  was  about  to  repair  to  that  place,  where  he  claimed  the 
fulfillment  of  its  promise.  At  one  hour  after  midnight  they  all 
proceeded  to  the  church,  and  the  gentleman  in  question,  with 
another  entered  the  vault  alone,  and  took  their  position  alongside 
of  the  coffin  of  poor  Fanny.  The  ghost  was  then  summoned  to 
appear,  but  it  appeared  not ;  it  was  summoned  to  knock,  but  it 
knocked  not ;  it  was  summoned  to  scratch,  but  it  scratched  not ; 
and  the  two  retired  from  the  vault,  with  the  firm  belief  that  the 
whole  business  was  a  deception  practised  by  Parsons  and  his 
daughter.  There  were  others,  however,  who  did  not  wish  to 
jump  so  hastily  to  a  conclusion,  and  who  suggested  that  they 
were,  perhaps,  trifling  with  this  awful  and  supernatural  being, 
which,  being  offended  with  them  for  their  presumption,  would 
not  condescend  to  answer  them.  Again,  after  a  serious  con- 
sultation, it  was  agreed  on  all  hands  that,  if  the  ghost  answered 
anybody  at  all,  it  would  answer  Mr.  Kent,  the  supposed  mur- 
derer; and  he  was  accordingly  requested  to  go  into  the  vault. 
He  went  with  several  others,  and  summoned  the  ghost  to  answer 
whether  he  had  indeed  poisoned  her.  There  being  no  answer, 
the  question  was  put  by  Mr.  Aldritch,  who  conjured  it,  if  it  were 
indeed  a  spirit,  to  end  their  doubts  —  make  a  sign  of  its  presence, 
and  point  out  the  guilty  persons.  There  being  still  no  answer  for 
the  space  of  half  an  hour,  during  which  time  all  these  boobies  waited 
with  the  most  praiseworthy  perseverance, they  returned  to  the  house 
of  Mr.  Aldritch,  and  ordered  the  girl  to  get  up  and  dress  herself. 
She  was  strictly  examined,  but  persisted  in  her  statement  that  she 
used  no  deception,  and  that  the  ghost  had  really  appeared  to  her. 


"  So  many  persons  had,  by  their  openly  expressed  belief  of 
the  reality  of  the  visitation,  identified  themselves  with  it,  that 
Parsons  and  his  family  were  far  from  being  the  only  persons 
interested  in  the  continuance  of  the  delusion.  The  result  of 
the  experiment  convinced  most  people;  but  these  were  not  to  be 
convinced  by  any  evidence,  however  positive,  and  they,  therefore, 
spread  abroad  the  rumor,  that  the  ghost  had  not  appeared  in  the 
vault  because  Mr.  Kent  had  taken  care  beforehand  to  have  the 
coffin  removed.  That  gentleman,  whose  position  was  a  very  pain- 
ful one,  immediately  procured  competent  witnesses,  in  whose  pres- 
ence the  vault  was  entered  and  the  coffin  of  poor  Fanny  opened. 
Their  deposition  was  then  published;  and  Mr.  Kent  indicted 
Parsons  and  his  wife,  his  daughter,  Mary  Frazer  the  servant, 
the  Reverend  Mr.  Moor,  and  a  tradesman,  two  of  the  most 
prominent  patrons  of  the  deception,  for  a  conspiracy.  The 
trial  came  on  in  the  court  of  King's  Bench,  on  the  10th  of  July, 
before  Lord  Chief  Justice  Mansfield,  when,  after  an  investiga- 
tion which  lasted  twelve  hours,  the  whole  of  the  conspirators  were 
found  guilty.  The  Rev.  Mr.  Moor  and  his  friend  were  severely 
reprimanded  in  open  court,  and  recommended  to  make  some 
pecuniary  compensation  to  the  prosecutor  for  the  aspersions  they 
had  been  instrumental  in  throwing  upon  his  character.  Parsons 
was  sentenced  to  stand  three  times  in  the  pillory,  and  to  be  im- 
prisoned for  two  years ;  his  wife  to  one  year's  and  his  servant  to 
six  months'  imprisonment  in  the  Bridewell.  A  printer,  who  had 
been  employed  by  them  to  publish  an  account  of  the  proceedings 
for  their  profit,  was  also  fined  fifty  pounds,  and  discharged." 

If  John  Bell,  the  honest  and  inoffensive  occupant  of  the  little 
house  in  Hydesville  at  the  time  the  peddler  was  said  to  have  been 
murdered,  had  taken  measures  in  imitation  of  the  London  stock- 
broker, and  appealed  to  our  courts  against  the  conspirators 
who  were  trying  to  fasten  upon  him  the  commission  of  a  capital 
crime,  a  result  might  have  been  reached  which  would  have 
stamped  out  spirit-rapping  as  effectually  as  the  decision  of  Lord 
Mansfield  did  in  1760. 

The  last  appearance  of  the  Fox  sisters  was  upon  a  different 
stage  and  with  surroundings  very  different  from  those  that  wit- 
nessed their  debut.  The  tumble-down  tenement  in  Wayne 
County  is  exchanged  for  the  crowded  and  brilliantly-lighted 
Academy  of  Music  in  New  York.  The  girls  of  twelve  and  fif- 
teen   have    become    middle-aged    ladies.     Margaretta  —  Mrs. 


Kane  —  is  upon  the  stage.  Her  sister  Catherine  —  Mrs. 
Jenkins  —  looks  on  approvingly  from  a  stage  box.  A  Tribune 
reporter  shall  tell  the  rest  of  the  story. 




Dr.  Cassius  M.  Richmond  has  been  for  some  time  advertising 
the  death  of  spiritualism,  coupled  with  the  announcement  on 
posters,  appropriately  bordered  in  deep  black,  that  he  is  the 
new  Jack-the-Giant-Killer  who  will  slay  it.  He  gave  it  a  hard 
knock  in  the  Academy  of  Music  last  night,  where  an  immense 
audience  assembled,  most  of  the  people  in  it  to  encourage  him, 
others  to  hinder  him,  others  to  make  nuisances  of  themselves. 
It  was  in  many  respects  a  rare  and  remarkable  gathering.  One 
could  easily  pick  out  in  the  crowded  seats  professional  men  of 
all  sorts  —  ministers,  physicians,  and  lawyers,  scholarly  men 
and  women,  men  of  repute  in  legitimate  scientific  research,  others 
notorious  in  the  walks  of  humbug,  women  well  known  by  the 
frequenters  of  materialization  "  seances,"  the  distinguished 
"  cranks  "  who  adorn  every  such  occasion,  and  Sunday-night 
idlers  who  came  from  the  same  motive  from  which  Artemus 
Ward's  "  Uncle  Simon,  he  clum  up  a  tree,"  namely,  to  see  what 
they  could  see. 

Well,  they  got  their  money's  worth  in  fun  as  well  as  in  in- 
struction, for  Dr.  Richmond's  genial,  off-hand  manner,  entirely 
unpractised,  as  he  never  faced  such  an  audience  before,  soon 
resolved  the  meeting  into  a  big,  free-and-easy  party,  where  any- 
body who  felt  that  way  could  help  out  the  lecturer.  The  enter- 
tainment was  a  success.  That  was  to  be  expected,  because  Dr. 
Richmond  is  not  only  an  exceptionally  expert  "  conjurer,"  but  he 
had  in  reserve  two  of  the  women  whose  names  were  for  years 
sacred  to  the  Spiritualists,  Margaret  and  Katy  Fox,  now  Mrs. 
Kane  and  Mrs.  Jenkins,  who  added  the  new  superstition  of 
"  spirit  rapping  "  to  the  terrors  of  mysticism  many  years  ago. 



Dr.  Richmond  did  not  deliver  any  "  set "  lecture.  He  said 
he  had  forgotten  his  manuscript,  a  failing  of  his  memory  that 
was  applauded.  But  he  got  the  "  spirits  "  to  write  an  introduc- 
tion for  him  on  an  apparently  clean  slate.  When  it  appeared  it 
read:  "Ladies  and  gentlemen,  I  am  not  going  to  add  to  the 
brilliant  arguments  pro  and  con  that  have  been  crowded  in  on 
the  subject  of  spiritualism.  I  am  here  simply  to  use  my  best 
efforts  to  dispel,  if  possible,  the  greatest  delusion  and  the  most 
gigantic  fraud  of  the  nineteenth  century.  I  am  on  trial  —  you 
are  judge  and  jury.  If  I  do  not  illustrate  what  I  advocate, 
condemn  me.  If  I  do,  to  your  satisfaction,  give  me  your  appro- 
bation and  support." 

A  man  in  the  corner  of  the  orchestra,  with  a  pallid  face 
adorned  by  a  deep-black  mustache  and  imperial,  got  up  and  asked 
with  a  scornful  German  accent :  "  Vat  has  dot  got  to  do  mit 
spiritualism?  " 

"  Put  him  out !  "  cried  a  unanimous  gallery. 

"  No,  sir !  "  yelled  the  excited  Spiritualist,  "  I'll  talk  against 
you  and  the  Fox  sisters,  too!  "     (Cheers  and  jeers.) 

"  Now,  by  your  talk  you  have  washed  the  slate  again,"  said 
Dr.  Richmond  quietly,  and  sure  enough  the  writing  had  vanished 
as  mysteriously  as  it  came. 

Then  the  Doctor  got  together  a  committee  of  fifteen  and  pro- 
ceeded to  perform  a  number  of  exceedingly  pretty  tricks.  The 
audience  felt  a  little  bit  "  out  of  it "  because  Dr.  Richmond  has 
not  yet  learned  Herrmann's  knack  of  allowing  the  house  to  see 
everything  that  is  going  on  as  well  as  the  committee  sees  it.  But 
nearly  everybody  was  patient  and  good  natured,  and  the  fifteen 
gentlemen  grouped  on  the  stage  in  attitudes  painfully  sugges- 
tive of  a  mob  of  citizens  at  rehearsal,  got  lots  of  encourage- 
ment, such  as :  "  Move  up,  supers  !  "  "  Break  away,  there ! '' 
"  Play  ball !  " 


Dr.  Richmond  allowed  the  committee  to  choose  the  name  of  a 
dead  person.  This  was  written  on  a  slip  of  paper  while  the 
Doctor  was  off  the  stage.  He  returned  with  a  table  and  a  brass 
rod,  and  with  the  aid  of  these  implements  and  a  little  brass  box 
ascertained  from  the  "  spirits  "  that  the  name  of  the  Emperor 


Frederick  William  had  been  chosen,  and  got  a  beautiful  slate 
message  from  his  dead  majesty. 

Next  Dr.  Richmond  read  the  number  of  a  bank  note  held  by 
one  of  the  committee.  They  drew  lots  to  determine  who  should 
do  the  experiment,  using  a  hatful  of  papers,  all  marked  but  one. 

"  Fellow  that  draws  the  blank  paper  stuck  for  the  drinks,  eh?" 
asked  a  wag  in  the  gallery. 

The  nervous  looking  young  man  who  drew  the  blank  remained 
on  the  stage  with  the  "  professor."  His  companions  retired  and 
left  him  blooming  alone.  He  chose  a  note.  Dr.  Richmond 
scanned  his  face  and  wrote  on  a  blackboard,  3,848,355. 

"  That's  not  the  number  of  the  note,"  said  the  young  man. 

"  Oh !    The  first  3  should  be  B." 


Applause  greeted  this  feat,  and  it  was  redoubled  when  the 
demonstrator  successfully  "  mind-read  "  the  denomination  of  it 
—  $5. 

The  Dis  Debar  writing-pad  trick  and  spirit-picture  trick 
were  reproduced  with  equal  success.  Dr.  Richmond  said  that  a 
friend  of  his  in  Philadelphia  would  give  $5,000  to  any  medium 
who  would  induce  the  spirits,  in  a  fair  and  open  way,  and  in  a 
manner  genuine  beyond  a  doubt,  to  manifest  their  presence  by 
even  a  scratch  an  inch  long  on  a  slate. 

Then  he  introduced  Margaret  Fox  Kane,  a  little,  compact 
woman,  dark  eyed,  and  dark  haired,  and  dressed  in  black,  and 
using  eyeglasses  with  black  cord  and  heavy  black  rims.  Her 
sister  Katy  sat  in  a  stage  box  and  was  a  silent,  attentive,  and  as- 
senting witness  of  what  Margaret  said  and  did. 

Mrs.  Kane  was  highly  excited,  and  spoke  in  a  tragic  way  that 
made  some  ill-mannered  wit  address  her  as  "  Jimmy  Owen 
O'Conor,"  which  somewhat  detracted  from  the  effect  of  her 
solemn  public  renunciation  of  spiritualism,  declaration  of  its 
falsehood,  and  resolution  to  tell  "  the  truth,  the  whole  truth,  and 
nothing  but  the  truth,  so  help  me  God."  This  declaration  was 
carefully  written  out,  and  Mrs.  Kane  delivered  it  in  a  frag- 
mentary and  mirth-provoking  style,  scanning  a  sentence  by  the 
aid  of  her  eyeglasses,  then  turning  to  the  audience  and  slowly 
repeating  it. 


After  that  she  sat  on  a  chair,  with  her  feet  on  a  sounding- 


board,  so  that  the  raps  might  be  distinctly  heard,  and  Dr.  Rich- 
mond explained  that  the  lady  did  the  knocking  with  her  big  toe. 
A  committee  of  physicians,  among  whom  was  Dr.  Dinsmore, 
examined  her  feet,  amid  titters  and  blushes  in  the  orchestra  and 
irreverent  remarks  from  the  gallery.  She  had  slipped  off  a 
shoe  to  facilitate  this  scientific  investigation,  and  putting  the 
stockinged  foot  on  the  board,  the  audience  heard  a  series  of 
raps,  "  rat-tat-tat-tat-tat,"  increasing  in  sound  from  faint  to 
loud,  and  apparently  traveling  up  the  wall  and  along  the  roof 
of  the  Academy.  Then  she  got  down  to  the  orchestra  floor  and 
repeated  the  experiment  successfully  there.  Going  back  on  the 
stage,  she  stood  upright  on  the  board,  adjured  the  "  kind,  dear 
spirits,"  and  there  was  a  rain  or  rather  a  hailstorm  of  responsive 

Of  course  there  was  a  punster  around  to  suggest  that  spiritu- 
alism "  isn't  worth  a  rap  any  longer."  The  exposure  was  cer- 
tainly thorough  and  successful,  and  Dr.  Richmond  received  the 
congratulations  of  all  his  friends  on  the  successful  initiation 
of  his  anti-humbug  crusade.  He  promised  to  give  a  materializa- 
tion "  seance  "  in  the  Academy  of  Music  by-and-by,  and  said  it 
would  be  so  effective  and  realistic  that  no  medium  could  excel  it. 





•  1929  • 

!  i